Safe Tables Our Priority (STOP), the nation’s advocacy group for victims of food-borne illness,  this month is beginning the first national registry of food-poisoning survivors with long-term health problems — people willing to share their medical histories with scientists in hopes of boosting much-needed research.

STOP’s action comes as the Associated Press’s health and medical reporter writes about  "the 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."

The AP goes on to report:

What they’ve spotted so far is troubling. In interviews with The Associated Press, they described high blood pressure, kidney damage, even full kidney failure striking 10 to 20 years later in people who survived severe E. coli infection as children, arthritis after a bout of salmonella or shigella, and a mysterious paralysis that can attack people who just had mild symptoms of campylobacter.

"Folks often assume once you’re over the acute illness, that’s it, you’re back to normal and that’s the end of it," said Dr. Robert Tauxe of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The long-term consequences are "an important but relatively poorly documented, poorly studied area of foodborne illness."

This squares to STOP’s experience.  The organization believes the true cost of food-borne illness on society  is being drastically under-estimates.  STOP’s hears from victims who develop medical conditions years later.  It hopes the register will be a way for science to study the true impacts.

The AP’s story can be found here.