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Food poisoning is a food borne illness that is common, usually mild, but sometimes deadly.  Symptoms often include sudden (within 48 hours of exposure to a contaminated food or drink) nausea, vomiting, painful abdominal cramping, and diarrhea. Depending on the contaminant, fever and chills, bloody stools, dehydration, and nervous system damage may follow. These symptoms may affect one person or a group of people who ate or drank the same thing (called an outbreak).

Types of food poisoning include Botulism, Campylobacter, E. coli, Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, Hepatitis A, Listeria, Norovirus, Salmonella or Shigella.  Most cases of food poisoning are mild and cause diarrhea and stomach cramps, but severe cases can be fatal or cause permanent damage.  If you have severe symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately. 

Botulism: severe food poisoning caused by the ingestion of foods containing a potent neurotoxin (nerve toxin).  There are only 25-30 cases of foodborne botulism each year in the United States, but the mortality rate is high if not treated immediately and properly.  Symptoms include double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, and muscle weakness. If untreated, these symptoms may progress to cause paralysis of the arms, legs, trunk and respiratory muscles.

Campylobacter: a spiral-shaped bacteria found primarily in the intestines of birds -- especially poultry -- and other animals.  Symptoms include diarrheal illness, usually accompanied by fever, and abdominal cramps.

E. coli: a potentially fatal contamination whose symptoms often include severe cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, mild fever and nausea or vomiting, and are most severe in children, the elderly and those with another illness. Symptoms start approximately 7 days after infection. The first sign is sudden, severe abdominal cramps.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome: an illness that is usually a complication to E. coli contamination characterized by damage and destruction of the red blood cells, which leads to a lower than normal number of red blood cells (a condition called anemia), blood clots, and damage to blood vessel walls. In the most severe cases, HUS can include damage to the kidneys, which can lead to failure of the kidneys (renal failure). Other complications that can accompany the illness are thrombocytopenia (platelet deficiency in the blood) and neurologic signs, including irritability and, very rarely, seizures.

Hepatitis A: a liver disease, is caused by an infection from the hepatitis A virus. Not everyone who is infected with the Hepatitis A virus will have symptoms of the illness. In most cases, characterized by mild, flu-like gastrointestinal symptoms. At its worst, it can impair proper functioning of the liver and even lead to death.

Listeria, Norovirus: a rare but potentially fatal illness whose outbreaks are most commonly associated with ready-to-eat meat foods, including hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry. Soft cheeses are another common source of Listeria outbreaks.
 Symptoms are usually flu-like. Because most people are resistant to the illness and contamination is relatively rare, listeriosis is uncommon.

Salmonella: Most cases of Salmonella poisoning do not require treatment. In rare cases, Salmonella-induced diarrheal illness becomes severe enough to require hospitalization and a course of antibiotics. Although very rare, some cases of Salmonellosis have led to the death of the infected individual.

Shigella: characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea. Most cases of shigellosis are passed from person to person via the oral-fecal route, meaning that someone, via food contamination or unsanitary hygiene, ingests some of the feces of someone with a Shigella infection. Shigella is present in the stool of an infected person and it continues to be present in the person's stool for about two weeks after they are no longer sick. Toddlers who are infected often pass the germ on to others. Vegetables can become contaminated with Shigella if the field in which they grow contains sewer water.

Who Can Sue

If you or a family member have been infected with food poisoning at a restaurant or through infected food introduced into commerce, you can bring a claim against the person or company responsible for the contamination.

Interesting Facts

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that in the United States, food poisoning causes about 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and up to 5,000 deaths each year. One of the most common bacterial forms of infection, the salmonellae organisms, account for $1 billion in medical costs and lost work time.

Of the 1,000 to 2,500 people who are infected each year with listeriosis in the U.S, 25 percent die as a result of the infection.

Potential Recovery

Recoveries for food poisoning that results in hospitalization, severe complications or death often are more than $1 million. Less severe cases result in smaller recoveries or compensation for lost wages. You should consult a products liability attorney or a personal injury attorney who specializes in food poisoning cases because the facts of each case are different.


E. coli Michigan and Ohio Outbreak Linked to Kroger Ground Beef
There are now 32 confirmed cases in an E. coli outbreak in Michigan (Michigan E. coli) and Ohio (Ohio E. coli) linked to Kroger ground beef. In response to this outbreak, Kroger has recalled an undetermined amount of ground beef. Read about the Kroger recall and a Kroger E. coli lawsuit.

FDA Warning Regarding Tomatoes: 
The Food and Drug Administration is alerting consumers in New Mexico and Texas that a salmonellosis outbreak appears to be linked to consumption of certain types of raw red tomatoes and products containing raw red tomatoes.

Amish Macaroni Salad Recall
: Orval Kent Foods, an Illinois firm, has recalled about 23,000 pounds of Amish Macaroni Salad after the Ohio Department of Agriculture found E. coli in a single package.

Sweetwater Valley Cheese Recall
: Sweetwater Valley Farm, Inc. of Philadelphia, Tennessee is recalling Tennessee Aged Black Pepper Cheese because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Gourmet Boutique Recall: Chicken Salad and Wraps
Gourmet Boutique, L.L.C., a Jamaica, New York firm, has recalled approximately 286,320 pounds of fresh and frozen meat and poultry products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Nebraska E. coli Outbreak Associated with Roast Beef
: Nebraska E. coli outbreak associated with roast beef has sickened at least 14 people. Epidemiological evidence indicates that those sickened ate the roast beef at a private event at a Sarpy County reception hall on March 26, 2008.

La Mesa, California Chipotle Hepatitis A Outbreak: 
At least eighteen people have contracted hepatitis A after eating at the La Mesa Chipotle in San Diego County, California.  The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) and County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) are investigating.

Minnesota Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Frozen Chicken
: Minnesota health and agriculture officials have two recent cases of salmonellosis (specifically Salmonella Enteritidis infection) in Minnesota that have been linked to raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned, stuffed chicken entrees. The implicated product is Milford Valley Farms Chicken Cordon Bleu with a stamped code of C8021. This product is sold at many different grocery store chains.


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