Ongoing (?) Salmonella outbreaks linked to Subway sandwiches and ConAgra’s Marie Calendar’s Cheesy Chicken and Rice frozen meals have spawned two law suits against the food companies. We filed suit on Monday against the Illinois Subway restaurant, and Doctors Associates (the parent corp for Subway), on behalf of Alicea Bush-Bailey, and on Tuesday against ConAgra on behalf of Dave Smith.
The Illinois Subway Salmonella outbreak has sickened 97 people across the state with confirmed Salmonella Hvittingfoss illnesses. Marie Calendar’s cheesy chicken and rice frozen meals have sickened at least 30 people nationally, though the latest update in this outbreak was on June 18.
The possible long-term consequences of Salmonella infection (primarily reactive and arthritis) afflict as many as 10% of Salmonella outbreak victims.
A recently-published study surveyed the extant scientific literature and noted that post-infectious irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) is a common clinical phenomenon first-described over five decades ago. The Walkerton Health Study further notes that:
Between 5% and 30% of patients who suffer an acute episode of infectious gastroenteritis develop chronic gastrointestinal symptoms despite clearance of the inciting pathogens.
In terms of its own data, the “study confirm[ed] a strong and significant relationship between acute enteric infection and subsequent IBS symptoms.” The WHS also identified risk-factors for subsequent IBS, including: younger age; female sex; and four features of the acute enteric illness—diarrhea for > 7days, presence of blood in stools, abdominal cramps, and weight loss of at least ten pounds.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic disorder characterized by alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea, both of which are generally accompanied by abdominal cramping and pain. In one recent study, over one-third of IBS sufferers had had IBS for more than ten years, with their symptoms remaining fairly constant over time. IBS sufferers typically experienced symptoms for an average of 8.1 days per month.
As would be expected from a chronic disorder with symptoms of such persistence, IBS sufferers required more time off work, spent more days in bed, and more often cut down on usual activities, when compared with non-IBS sufferers. And even when able to work, a significant majority (67%), felt less productive at work because of their symptoms. IBS symptoms also have a significantly deleterious impact on social well-being and daily social activities, such as undertaking a long drive, going to a restaurant, or taking a vacation. Finally, although a patient’s psychological state may influence the way in which he or she copes with illness and responds to treatment, there is no evidence that supports the theory that psychological disturbances in fact cause IBS or its symptoms.
The term reactive arthritis refers to an inflammation of one or more joints, following an infection localized at another site distant from the affected joints. The predominant site of the infection is the gastrointestinal tract. Several bacteria, including Salmonella, induce septic arthritis. The resulting joint pain and inflammation can resolve completely over time or permanent joint damage can occur.
The reactive arthritis associated with Reiter’s may develop after a person eats food that has been tainted with bacteria. In a small number of persons, the joint inflammation is accompanied by conjunctivitis (inflammation of the eyes), and uveitis (painful urination). This triad of symptoms is called Reiter’s Syndrome. Reiter’s syndrome, a form of reactive arthritis, is an uncommon but debilitating syndrome caused by gastrointestinal or genitourinary infections. The most common gastrointestinal bacteria involved are Salmonella, Campylobacter, Yersinia, and Shigella. Reiter’s syndrome is characterized by a triad of arthritis, conjunctivitis, and urethritis, although not all three symptoms occur in all affected individuals.
Although the initial infection may not be recognized, reactive arthritis can still occur. Reactive arthritis typically involves inflammation of one joint (monoarthritis) or four or fewer joints (oligoarthritis), preferentially affecting those of the lower extremities; the pattern of joint involvement is usually asymmetric. Inflammation is common at enthuses—i.e., the places where ligaments and tendons attach to bone, especially the knee and the ankle.