Rossland Telegraph
By Rossland Telegraph
December 11th, 2016

Guillain-Barré  (“Ghee-yan Bah-ray”) Syndrome  can cause muscle weakness and temporary paralysis, and can be life-threatening.  In susceptible individuals, it can be triggered by bacteria in undercooked chicken, or in other contaminated food or even water.  The suspected link between Campylobacter jejuni, a bacterium commonly found in raw and undercooked poultry, and Guillain-Barré  Syndrome  has recently been established by a research team at Michigan State University in the United States. Science Daily News reported it here.  Click that link for more details.

Don’t be too alarmed. It’s a rare illness, afflicting only one or two people per 100,000 each year, but is not unknown in our area.  It involves an auto-immune disorder; the body’s immune system attacks  peripheral nerves and damages their myelin insulation.  Initial symptoms are numbness, tingling, pain, and muscle weakness, usually starting in the arms and legs.

A person’s genetic makeup determines whether or not he or she is susceptible to developing Guillain-Barré Syndrome after eating food contaminated with Campylobacter jejuni.  Some susceptible people may develop only a very mild case, but most should be hospitalized immediately, as it is a “rapid-onset” illness and can become serious very quickly.  Recovery can take months or even years, and many people are left with long-term episodes of fatigue, and with abnormal sensations, pains and muscle aches.

Campylobacter jejuni is not the only trigger of the syndrome; it is also associated with a number of other bacteria and viruses, including the Zika virus, says Linda Mansfield, the lead author of the University of Michigan report. 

If some readers are looking forward to any form of roasted poultry, this newly confirmed link between undercooked birds and a rare but potentially life-threatening illness should provide additional motivation to ensure that your chicken, turkey, goose or duck is thoroughly cooked. 

You’re not likely to develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome, but if you or any member of your family did, it could ruin your whole day for a long time to come.  Food poisoning is a much more likely outcome of eating undercooked poultry, and  it’s no fun at all either.  Allow lots of time for roasting, and may your holidays be happy. 

Categories: GeneralHealth

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