There are lots of different ways you can get
sick from food-borne toxins, but there are a few illnesses are so serious that they can
cause long-term problems, or even death. The ugliest, most dangerous bugs that cause food-borne
illness are: Campylobacter is a bacterium that causes fever,
diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. This pathogen is spread through eating raw or undercooked
chicken, or other foods that have been cross-contaminated with raw chicken.
Salmonella is also a bacterium, and it causes a disease called salmonellosis, which causes
fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, it can also cause life-threatening
infection, particularly among people with compromised immune systems.
E coli. These bacteria are found in cow feces, and any illness in people is results from
ingesting food or water contaminated with microscopic amounts of dung. Disgusting, right?
This infection typically causes severe and bloody diarrhea, and painful abdominal cramps,
but without much fever. In a small percentage of people, the initial symptoms are followed
by a severe disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause anemia, profuse
bleeding, and kidney failure. Norovirus, or Norwalk-like virus, is extremely
common It causes most cases of what people call “stomach flu.” The virus causes acute
gastrointestinal illness, with severe vomiting, that resolves within two days. This virus
spreads easily from person to person, which is why outbreaks tend to occur in “closed
population” settings, such as schools and child care facilities, nursing homes, dormitories,
and cruise ships. After you eat a microbe-infested meal, there
is a delay, or “incubation period,” before the symptoms begin. This delay ranges from
hours to days, depending on the organism, and on how many microbes were swallowed. Many
organisms cause similar symptoms, most commonly diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and nausea. There
is so much overlap that it is rarely possible to say which microbe caused your illness unless
laboratory tests are done, or unless the illness is part of a recognized outbreak.
Now that I’ve scared you, what should you do? First, make sure you get all the medical
care you need. Second, report the incident to public health authorities so the illness
can be investigated. Go to www.foodsafety.gov for state contact information. Third, collect
and save evidence. That might mean packaging from the food you believe made you ill, receipts
from a restaurant meal, names and contact information of witnesses, or anything else
that supports your claim. Also, write down information about your illness while your
memory is fresh. Include the date your symptoms began, what your symptoms felt like, days
taken off work, and any other way the illness affected your life. Finally, if your injuries
are severe or long-lasting, contact HensonFuerst Attorneys. Our experienced food-borne illness
lawyers are here to listen, and to help determine what rights and obligations you have.