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Long-Term Health Problems Linked To Foodborne Illness

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:05 AM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Food Safety, Protecting Your Family, FDA, Foodborne Illness, Salmonella, E. Coli

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IMAGE SOURCE: © Wikimedia Commons / salmonella

A recent study by the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention finds foodborne infections can have long-lasting health effects that can be as serious as kidney failure, paralysis, hearing or visual impairments, mental retardation, seizure and possibly death.

At particular risk are children because their developing immune systems don’t have the same ability as adult systems to fight foodborne pathogens. Also, children’s stomachs don’t produce the same volume of acids as adult digestive systems.

The report, released last week, listed the five main foodborne illnesses in the U.S. along with possible long-term effects:

Campylobacter: arthritis, paralysis.

E. coli O157:H7: High blood pressure, gallstones, kidney problems, irritable bowel syndrome, neurological problems, such as seizures.

Listeria monocytogenes: miscarriage, premature infant death or stillbirth in pregnant women.

Salmonella: arthritis, eye irritation and painful urination.

Toxoplasma gondi: visual impairment or mild to severe mental retardation.

The report also discusses how under-reporting, inadequate follow-up and a lack of research make it difficult to assess the impact that foodborne illness is having on Americans.

The most common symptoms of food-borne illness are vomiting and diarrhea. They typically last only a few days. But, in 2 to 3 percent of cases, foodborne disease can cause serious long-term health problems, according to the FDA.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) released a report last month on the top ten foods likely to sicken people and includes – leafy greens, eggs, tomatoes, berries and sprouts. Leafy greens alone account for 363 outbreaks and 13,600 illnesses, mostly from E. coli and Salmonella poisoning.

The list only focuses on foods overseen by the FDA.

An estimated 76 million Americans become sick each year from foodborne illness, 325,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly half are children younger than 15. #


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