Foodborne illness is caused by contaminated food or beverages. Some instances of foodborne illness—also referred to as food poisoning—last only a few days, while others can cause serious complications that last for weeks and result in life-threatening injuries. It is crucial to seek medical help as soon as possible if you are experiencing severe foodborne illness symptoms.
Common Symptoms of Foodborne Illness
Symptoms of food poisoning have sudden onset and often include:
- Vomiting and Diarrhea: To purge the virus, bacteria, or other pathogen that caused the illness from the body, many people experience vomiting and diarrhea.
- Nausea: The toxins produced by infectious pathogens in food can cause severe nausea that lasts for several days.
- Fever: High fever often results when the body increases its core temperature to fight off the infection.
These symptoms can be debilitating and may cause you to miss work for days or even weeks. You may even need to see your doctor and get medication to get better. If you suffered from a foodborne illness caused by negligent food preparation, handling, or storage, let our law firm help get you the money you deserve for your lost wages and medical bills.
What Causes Foodborne Illness?
Foodborne illness—or food poisoning—is caused by harmful bacteria or viruses, called foodborne pathogens, that contaminate a food or beverage. When consumed, the harmful agents can cause infection and illness.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following are the most dangerous types of foodborne pathogens:
- coli: E. coli is a bacteria that can cause illness when food or water is contaminated with microscopic amounts of feces. Symptoms of E. coli infection include painful abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. In a small percentage of exposures, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can occur several weeks after the first onset of infection, which can cause profuse bleeding, anemia, kidney failure, and even death.
- Listeria: Listeriosis is a potentially fatal foodborne illness caused by listeria, a bacteria occasionally found in fresh produce. The disease’s flu-like symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days to several weeks after you have eaten contaminated food. Listeriosis poses the greatest threat to pregnant women, the elderly, and others with weakened immune systems.
- Norovirus: This virus usually causes mild illness, but is the leading cause of foodborne deaths simply because it is the most common pathogen. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps, and usually last one or two days. Nursing home residents and those with children in childcare facilities should be particularly cautious because the disease is very contagious.
- Salmonella: This bacterial pathogen causes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, it can also cause life-threatening infections, especially among those with compromised immune systems.
- Toxoplasma: Toxoplasma is a parasite estimated to be present in more than 60 million Americans. A healthy immune system usually prevents the parasite from causing illness. However, severe toxoplasmosis can lead to brain or eye damage. Individuals at the highest risk include infants, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
If you’ve been exposed to one of these pathogens, Henson Fuerst can help. We’re here to make sure you get the medical care you need to recover.
Foodborne Illness: How to Report a Foodborne Illness
If you have suffered from a serious foodborne illness, Henson Fuerst recommends alerting health officials as soon as possible so the issue can be evaluated and investigated accordingly. In most cases, you should first notify your local North Carolina health director and the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator for your region. They will ask you questions about the severity and duration of your illness and the details surrounding the contamination incident.
If you need further assistance in reporting a food safety issue, the following websites are available:
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Hotline
- FDA Non-emergency Hotline
- Pet Food Safety Complaints
- Centers for Disease Control
Henson Fuerst Can Help
After you report your foodborne illness to health officials, contact the North Carolina food poisoning lawyers at Henson Fuerst. We will defend your rights and help fight for the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other illness-related expenses.
When you or someone you love is seriously injured from a foodborne illness caused by someone else’s carelessness, a North Carolina foodborne illness lawyer at Henson Fuerst can get you the help you need. Call us at (919) 781-1107 or complete a free initial consultation form today. We will fight to help get you the support and compensation you need to recover from your illness.