Several types of harmful bacterium can lead to an outbreak of food-borne illness, typically caused by contamination due to poor sanitation standards. Shigellosis, a bacterial illness caused by exposure to the Shigella bacterium, is transmitted by exposure to water contaminated with fecal particles. While more common in the developing world, where access to modern sanitation is unavailable or very limited, outbreaks of Shigellosis have been known to occur in the United States and other developed countries. This contamination may come as a result of food supplies becoming contaminated by untreated water or sewage, or due to unsanitary conditions in eating establishments caused by improper or infrequent hand-washing by food preparers.
Shigellosis shares several characteristics with other types of food-borne illness, such as E. coli. The transmission of the bacteria is similar to that of E. Coli, often by contaminated raw fruits and vegetables, salads, milk, and meat. Mild symptoms such as abdominal discomfort or cramps may occur. In more severe cases, the patient may experience symptoms of dysentery, ranging from cramps or diarrhea, to fever, vomiting or bloody stool. These symptoms are more likely to be severe in the young, the aged, and those with some type of immune deficiency. As with E. coli, the most severe cases can result in hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal shutdown of kidney function requiring dialysis and other treatment.
Additionally, severely affected patients are at risk for developing a condition known as Reiter’s syndrome, or reactive arthritis. This is an autoimmune condition developing in response to a bacterial infection. Reiter’s syndrome often presents after the catalyst infection. This syndrome is characterized by an initial onset of urinary discomfort (such as burning pain) and may be accompanied by eye issues such as conjunctivitis. The initial onset of primary symptoms is followed by arthritis affecting large joints, causing pain and swelling similar to other types of arthritis. The initial span of the flare-up can last a few weeks or a few months, and recurrences of arthritic symptoms can occur over many years.
While outbreaks of shigella contamination are often not as widespread as E. coli (the cause of several national recalls and severe outbreaks of illness in recent years) this type of illness still poses significant risk to human health. Often, shigella outbreaks are traced to a single restaurant, a catering venue or other commercial food preparation entity. If affected by shigella contamination, you may require medical care, and will most likely lose wages during your recovery period – which can last a week or more even in less serious instances of illness.
Should you suspect you have contracted a food-borne illness from a restaurant or by commercially prepared foods, you should seek immediate medical attention. If your illness is caused by negligence or contaminated products, you are entitled to be compensated for losses and pain & suffering resulting from the contaminated product. Contact food poisoning lawyer, Ty Wilson, for a free evaluation of your claim.