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Animal Disease and Human Health Risk

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Listeriosis

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacteria that can also cause life-threatening disease. The symptoms of the disease are similar to the flu. Although we are making progress in decreasing the number of Listeria cases, it still causes hundreds of needless deaths each year in the United States alone. A 1995 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicated that about 1100 Americans each year are afflicted with Listeria infection. About 250 of these die of the disease.86 An earlier Center for Disease Control evaluation of this germ showed a similarly sobering death rate.87 In both reports, over 20 percent of those who developed infection ultimately died from it. Although Listeria poses particular risk for pregnant women and newborns, only one-third of the recent cases occurred in such categories. Other individuals at high risk for this infection are the elderly and those with weakened immune systems from conditions like cancer, diabetes, or AIDS.

Food categories associated with the highest risk are soft cheeses and undercooked chicken.88 Other items identified as carrying risk were foods from store deli counters and "non-reheated hot dogs." The link of Listeria cases with hot dogs and chicken is stated in Figure 17: Listeria Bacteria in Chicken and Hot Dogs.89


Campylobacter

Campylobacter is the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning in the U.S., although it does not tend to make the headlines. Each year over two million Americans are infected with this organism and develop symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. In up to 20 percent of cases, the disease can be prolonged and severe. Each year as many as 200 deaths in our country are traced to Campylobacter.90 Campylobacter infection can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, a serious and potentially life-threatening disease.91 Guillain-Barre is a type of rapid paralysis that usually begins in the legs and travels up the body. It can affect the muscles of breathing, and can thus cause respiratory death.92 Cases of Guillain-Barre can be triggered by other causes beside Campylobacter. However, Campylobacter tends to cause a worse paralytic disease that is usually associated with severe disability even if the person recovers from the acute illness.93

When assessing foods for Campylo-bacter risk, chickens head the list. More than half of human cases is traced to chicken consumption. As recently as 1990, a University of Wisconsin study of over 2000 egg-laying hens from three different flocks found that all but eight birds were infected with this potentially dangerous germ.94 Although the organism is usually just harbored in the birds' intestines, this is still a problem since most modern chicken are not killed the way grandmother used to do it (chopping its head off), but are now killed by automated machines while the chickens go by on conveyer belts. The bodies of the chicken can be opened by the sharp knives in the killing process and the gut contents are then spilled into the meat itself. Other foods involved in Campy-lobacter disease outbreaks include beef, cake icing, raw milk, and eggs.95


References
86 Tappero JW, Schuchat A, et al. Reduction in the incidence of human listeriosis in the United States. Effectiveness of prevention efforts? The Listeriosis Study Group. JAMA 1995 Apr 12;273(14):1118-1122.

87 Update: foodborne listeriosis--United States, 1988-1990. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1992 Apr 17;41(15):251, 257-258.

88 Update: foodborne listeriosis--United States, 1988-1990. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 1992 Apr 17;41(15):251, 257-258.

89 Schwartz B, Ciesielski CA, et al. Association of sporadic listeriosis with consumption of uncooked hot dogs and undercooked chicken. Lancet 1988 Oct 1;2(8614):779-782.

90 Craig WJ. Are You Safe at the Plate. In: Nutrition for the Nineties. Eau Claire, MI: Golden Harvest Books, 1992 p. 267-279.

91 Rees JH, Soudain SE, et al. Campylobacter jejuni infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome. N Engl J Med 1995 Nov 23;333(21):1374-1379.

92 Haas LF, Sumner AJ. Acute Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyradiculoneuropathies (Landry's or Guillain-Barre syndrome). In: Kelley WN, DeVitaVT JR, et al, editors. Textbook of Internal Medicine--2nd edition. Philadelphia, PA: JP. Lippincott Company, 1992 p. 2235-2236.

93 Rees JH, Soudain SE, et al. Campylobacter jejuni infection and Guillain-Barre syndrome. N Engl J Med 1995 Nov 23;333(21):1374-1379.

94 Jacobson MF, Lefferts LY, Garland AW. Meat, Poultry, and Eggs. In: Safe Food: Eating Wisely in a Risky World. Venice, CA: Living Planet Press, 1991 p. 91-92.

95 Craig WJ. Are You Safe at the Plate. In: Nutrition for the Nineties. EauClaire, MI: Golden Harvest Books, 1992 p. 267-279.



Notice of Credit
The article above is compliments of the Uchee Pines Institute, Seale, Alabama, a teaching and treatment facility devoted to natural remedies. For mor information, call 334-855-4781,e-mail: ucheepine@csi.com, or visit their Website: http://www.ucheepines.org.



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