Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dirty Little Secret About E Coli

There's a dirty little secret about E. Coli, salmonella, campylobacter and other forms of food poisoning that hasn't become common knowledge for the general public -- yet -- and there is considerable cause for concern.

What's the dirty little secret? The news, according to this Associated Press article is alarming some sectors of the health industry:
It's a dirty little secret of food poisoning: E. coli and certain other foodborne illnesses can sometimes trigger serious health problems months or years after patients survived that initial bout. Scientists only now are unraveling a legacy that has largely gone unnoticed.

What kind of health problems? Here's one example from the article:
Consider Alyssa Chrobuck of Seattle, who at age 5 was hospitalized as part of the Jack-in-the-Box hamburger outbreak that 15 years ago this month made a deadly E. coli strain notorious.

She's now a successful college student but ticks off a list of health problems unusual for a 20-year-old: High blood pressure, recurring hospitalizations for colon inflammation, a hiatal hernia, thyroid removal, endometriosis.

"I can't eat fatty foods. I can't eat things that are fried, never been able to eat ice cream or milkshakes," says Chrobuck. "Would I have this many medical problems if I hadn't had the E. coli? Definitely not. But there's no way to tie it definitely back."

Donna Rosenbaum of the consumer advocacy group Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.) is quoted saying;
"We're drastically underestimating the burden on society that foodborne illnesses represent."

S.T.O.P.'s newly elected president, Ms. Nancy Donley of Chicago, is no stranger to the effects of food poisoning. Their website indicates that "Ms. Donley, who previously served as S.T.O.P.’s President from 1996-2004, is nationally known for her extensive advocacy work on preventing foodborne illness and death. She became a member of S.T.O.P. and started her advocacy work after the tragic death of her six-year-old son, Alex, in 1993 from E. coli O157:H7-contaminated meat."

Now, if you are really curious to learn more about foodborne illnesses, you really should spend some time on the S.T.O.P. website. There " a collection of stories and testimonies given by victims and families of victims of foodborne illness. They bear witness to the fact that existing and emerging foodborne illness ravages victims without mercy."

The Center for Disease Control is aware of the problems relating to foodborne illness. They say foodborne illnesses cause 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths a year. Among survivors, some long-term consequences are obvious from the outset. Some required kidney transplants. They may have scarred intestines that promise lasting digestive difficulty.

But unfortunately, there has been little data collected on what happens to food poison survivors AFTER...
For now, some of the best evidence comes from the University of Utah, which has long tracked children with E. coli. About 10 percent of E. coli sufferers develop a life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, where their kidneys and other organs fail.

Ten to 20 years after they recover, between 30 percent and half of HUS survivors will have some kidney-caused problem, says Dr. Andrew Pavia, the university's pediatric infectious diseases chief. That includes high blood pressure caused by scarred kidneys, slowly failing kidneys, even end-stage kidney failure that requires dialysis.

"I don't want to leave the message that everyone who had symptoms ... is in trouble," stresses Pavia.

Miserable as E. coli is, it doesn't seem to trigger long-term problems unless it started shutting down the kidneys the first time around, he says. "People with uncomplicated diarrhea, by and large we don't have evidence yet that they have complications."

There are other proven long-term consequences of food poisoning. You can read the article here for more details.

In addition to foodborne illnesses, antibiotic resistance is also one of the top concerns for the Center for Disease Controll.

The "dirty little secret" on foodborne illness comes out following another important article published on January 20, 2008, in the San Francisco Chronicle: "Bacteria race ahead of drugs Falling behind: Deadly infections increasingly able to beat antibiotics"

Now, I'd be remiss if I didn't take you back to the manure issues surrounding CAFOs, considering the above news.

So many, many times before on this blog I've pointed out study after study after study regarding how long these pathogens can survive in our soils and waters. You need only look to our 303d water reports to see the E. Coli problems in Indiana waterways.

My point is this -- if you can't kill it first, you shouldn't be planting it in (or spraying it on) the ground in such massive, concentrated quantities.

BigAg has been on a mission to push farmers to "grow big or get out" for years now. And yet, in all their talks about so-called "nutrient" absorbance capacity of the land in "safe manure handling practices" it simply astounds me that they spend so little time on the health issues relating to factory farming practices that appear to be leaving a dirty trail all the way from the farm to the fork.

And what supremely ticks me off is how their push for BIG has slaughtered so many family farms across this great nation while they -- Big Ag -- keep digging into taxpayer pockets to deal with the issues surrounding their "model" for the future of our food -- to have taxpayers pay to clean up their mess.

They're eager to throw another few billion at the FDA for tighter food safety.

They're happy to see more billions flow to the USDA for greater food safety.

They eagerly wait to see how much more money can go into farm subsidies and the like to deal with everything from........

DANG IT!!! They created the dang mess in the first place... even convincing small farmers, who would have had to quit and lose their farms, to go BIG so they could compete in the industry -- glossing over the unresolved problems tied to this style of Agriculture. AND NOW -- DIG DEEPER INTO TAXPAYER POCKETS ...scare the hell out of them to make them pay more, and more, and more... and... geez. It's time to get responsibility back where it belongs, dangit!!

Sorry. Got a little carried away with this post. (taking a deep breath here)

Gotta run -- but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be back soon with more on this issue.

Want to do something right now?

Call Rep. Crawford ASAP and request that he schedule HB 1168 for a hearing and vote in House Ways and Means Committee. They're trying to keep it out.

His office number at the statehouse is 317-232-9875.

The toll free number for the Indiana House is 800-382-9842.

You only have until Thursday, by the way. Yeah, they like to slip past these as fast as possible -- my humble opinion.

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