The safety of our food supply is critical. Yet in 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated food poisoning affects 48 million Americans annually. While most of the cases resulted in relatively mild to moderate symptoms, 128,000 people are hospitalized each year due to food poisoning and another 3,000 die.
Food-borne illnesses can be caused by many different types of organisms and parasites. Below are some of the most common types:
Botulism -- Botulism is rare but it does occur. Typically, it occurs in seafood products, meat products and canned vegetables. But, it has also occurred with baked potatoes, chili peppers and garlic-infused oil. When you eat food containing the toxin, nerve function is disrupted causing paralysis. If you are diagnosed in time, an injection of antitoxin can protect your nerves from further damage. However, the antitoxin can not repair the nerve damage already done. But fortunately, most nerves can regenerate with months of extended rehabilitation therapy.
Campylobacter -- This is a very common form of food poisoning. While it is not normally associated with widespread outbreaks, they can occur. Symptoms include diarrhea, cramps, fever and vomiting. The duration of the illness is typically two to ten days. Treatment usually consists of rest and plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
Salmonella -- Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals and people. Salmonella outbreaks occur when food becomes contaminated by feces. The most common sources of salmonella poisoning are raw meat, poultry, seafood and raw eggs. Even fruits and vegetables can become tainted with salmonella if watered or washed with contaminated water. Salmonella typically creates gastrointestinal problems such as vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, etc. But, it can be extremely dangerous if it enters the bloodstream as it can cause meningitis, endocarditis and osteomyelitis.
Cryptosporidium -- This gastrointestinal disease is caused by the ingestion of a parasite which lodges in the walls of the intestines. Infection occurs when eating or drinking products contaminated with the parasite, swimming in contaminated water and accidentally ingesting some of it or touching your hand to your mouth after it has been in contact with a contamination source. The parasite is hard to kill because it is resistant to a number of chlorine-based disinfectants and it can survive for months. This particular food-borne illness can be particularly dangerous for those with compromised immune systems and transplant patients.
E. Coli -- E.Coli is in the intestines of humans and animals and most strains of the bacteria are harmless. However, some varieties can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting and cramps. This food borne illness can be especially dangerous for young children and the elderly as it can result in life-threatening kidney failure.
Cyclospora -- Cyclospora is another parasitic infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water. It is typically associated with fresh produce such as lettuce, raspberries and fresh basil. Testing of a stool sample is necessary to confirm the diagnosis. This particular food borne illness requires treatment with antibiotics.
Listeria -- This bacteria can cause a serious infection (listeriosis) which primarily affects the elderly, young children, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Listeriosis is most commonly associated with raw milk, cheeses, ice cream, raw and cooked poultry, raw meats, raw and smoked fish and raw vegetables. To confirm the diagnosis, a culture of the infected person's blood, cerebrospinal fluid or stool must be taken. Listeriosis can result in meningitis, septicemia, encephalitis and intrauterine or cervical infections in pregnant women.
Hepatitis A -- Hepatitis A is caused by a highly-contagious infection. The virus is typically spread by drinking contaminated water, eating raw shellfish from contaminated water or consuming food prepared by someone infected with the disease who failed to carefully wash their hands after using the bathroom. Hepatitis A can impair liver function but in most cases the body will recover from the infection on its own. Liver failure is rare but it does occur -- mostly in the elderly and those already suffering with liver disease.
Norovirus -- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, norovirus is the most common cause of food borne illness in the United States. Each year, 21 million people are affected by the disease with 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths. The norovirus is spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or drink, by sharing utensils or food with an infected person or by touching an infected object or surface and then touching your mouth. Because it is a virus, it does not respond to antibiotics, so rest and fluids are generally the recommended course of treatment.
Shigella -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates this bacteria affects about 14,000 people each year. Like so many of the food-borne illnesses, it is typically transmitted via poor hygiene by an infected person. In other words, a person with the illness fails to properly wash their hands after using the bathroom and then contaminates food, water or an object. However, it is also common in day cares when an infected child plays with toys or even in a splash fountain or at a splash table. Children between the ages of two and four are most at risk because they are not potty-trained and are in close contact with other children who are not potty-trained. Generally, this infection clears on its own but sometimes requires antibiotics.
We have more than 80 years experience in representing injury victims and, during that time, we have proudly received many honors and awards as well as the praise of our clients. We handle all food poisoning cases on a contingency basis which means we only get paid if we recover money for you. Because we also advance all case expenses, you are never out of pocket any money to pursue your food poisoning case. To learn more about our fees and how we handle case expenses, read more here.
We have recovered more than $100 million dollars for our satisfied clients and we would like to help you too. If you believe you or one of your family members has been the victim of a food borne illness and has suffered a serious injury, please contact one of our experienced injury attorneys. We will provide you with a free, no-obligation consultation in which we will thoroughly advise you of your rights. Contact us online or call us anytime of day at 615-742-4880 or toll-free at 866-812-8787.