There have been a number of food product recalls and news reports lately which refer to something called E. coli. While you probably have heard about it, you may not understand exactly what it is. Since we often feature reports of food-related illnesses and recalls in this blog as well as on Facebook and Twitter, we thought some of you might appreciate a basic explanation of E.coli.
What Is Food Poisoning?
“Food poisoning” is a broad term that most people are familiar with. You may hear medical professionals refer to it as “food-borne illness.” It’s the same thing – an illness that relates from eating contaminated food. Millions of people are affected each year, in varying degrees. There are a variety of causes, most of them from bacteria. The bacteria most people are familiar with is Salmonella, but there are others. These include Listeria, Campylobacter, Clostridium perfringens, and E.coli. (If you’re interested in learning more details about the five most common bacteria which produce food poisoning, read the article here.) Food poisoning can also result from toxins such as mercury, parasites, or molds.
What is E.Coli?
E. coli is an umbrella name for a number of bacterial strains. E.coli is commonly found in the intestinal system of healthy people and some animals, including beef cattle, deer, sheep, and goats. Most E.coli bacteria are harmless, but some produce toxins which cause serious food-borne illnesses. It’s official designation is Escherichia coli (E.coli) O157:H7. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that E.coli 0157:H7 affects approximately 73,000 people each year, and an average of 61 cases are fatal. E.coli 0157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea, and in some cases, kidney failure.
How Is E.Coli Spread?
The most common cause is contamination of meat with animal fecal matter during slaughter. It is especially likely when the meat is then ground, because the contaminating bacteria is mixed throughout the meat. In fact, the first reported case of E.coli 0157 :H7 was from a hamburger. But it’s not confined to meat; dairy cows can carry it on their udders, which then contaminates the milk. Raw milk and milk products are a potential source of E.coli. But since animal feces can be found anywhere farm animals are, even petting zoos, E.coli can be transferred via the hands as well. E. coli contamination has been linked to produce grown in manure-fertilized fields. And it is possible to contract it from drinking water contaminated with sewage. Of great concern is the possibility of transferring it between family members when one individual has it but hand-washing hygiene is haphazard.
Though E.coli can present a health hazard for certain individuals, with the proper precautions, you can most likely avoid it, or significantly reduce your chances of being affected adversely by it. In our next post we’ll cover symptoms as well as prevention.
Estimates show that approximately one million individuals each year are harmed during hospitalization. Many recover from adverse affects, but some are left with lingering and even permanent damage. And even some of those who do heal physically never quite emotionally get over the trauma. These people suffer from symptoms resembling PSTD.
One publication – ProPublica – has set up a Facebook community for those have suffered patient harm. ProPublica submitted comments and questions from members to Dr. Gerald Monk, a San Diego State University professor who is examining the after-effects of patient harm, what things survivors deal with, and how to help them cope. To read Dr. Monk’s insights, see the full article here.
If you or someone you know experienced some harm in the hospital and have had trouble coping, you may find this article interesting and hopefully helpful. While many people undergo surgery or other hospitalizations and come home much better than before they went in, the reality is that each day a scapel slips, medication gets mixed up, a wrong diagnosis is made, or a whole host of other situations happen which adversely affect hospital patients. Harm is not intended, nor is it always a result of negligence or malpractice. But for some, ill effects may linger, regardless of the cause.
If you or someone you love has suffered due to a hospitalization-related harm, please contact our experienced and compassionate medical personal injury attorneys for a free case evaluation.
If you get hurt at Disneyland, it’s not that small of world after all, if you try to hold the theme park accountable. Overwhelmingly, unsafe floors and walking spaces prompted most of some 140 civil cases filed at Disney-related theme parks across the last five years. Because many of those cases settled out of court, the news for visitors to theme parks is probably good: if you get hurt at a theme park, pursuing some form of compensation is likely to be successful. Being familiar with common types of injuries can also help you avoid risky areas and prevent getting hurt in the first place.
Of course, for the millions of visitors hosted at Disneyland each year, 140 is actually fairly small, particularly because most of the injuries are minor. When a defendant faces persistent litigation over minor injuries, chances are that a far larger number sustained injuries but elected not to pursue any formal remedies.
Some of the injuries documented in the cases had comic elements: a woman fell after walking over eggs dropped in Goofy’s Kitchen, for example. Most, however, revealed numerous areas of danger throughout the park. Disneyland’s form of entertainment, looked through a lens of construction, employment, and public safety, is sophisticated and unusual, featuring:
This is not to say that Disneyland is a defenseless target that will pay claims to avoid conflict. The legal entities involved in operating the park are formidable. Disneyland’s considerable popularity translates into revenue for local authorities, and thus considerable influence over local regulations.
However, Disneyland’s management knows something else: it doesn’t cost very much to keep people with very minor injuries happy. If someone slips and falls, gets a bruise but thinks “they’re fine,” the park may offer free tickets, an upgrade to a better hotel, or other things of value. Visiting Disneyland is expensive, and the operators know it is in their best interests to keep their guests happy. That knowledge, combined with a modest medical staff in the park, means that many injuries can be handled quickly and quietly.
When Disneyland doesn’t agree with someone over the extent or consequences of their injuries, the person may get nothing, or very little, with no recourse but litigation. But the park also knows that belabored civil litigation isn’t worth the time and adverse publicity. If a person complains about a broken foot, he may receive $250 informally, but $1,000 as a quick settlement in a formal personal injury case. To Disneyland, it’s a balancing act between money and reputation, but it often works to the advantage of vigilant guests: when those injured from unsafe conditions are willing to seek redress in the courts, they stand a far better chance of receiving a better deal.
While in this post we’ve focused on Disneyland because of its visibility and being recently in the news for a settlement, many of the items pointed out here apply to other theme parks as well. If you or someone you love has been injured at a theme park and you are wondering whether you may have a claim, please contact us for a free case evaluation.
You may have noticed a number of product recall alerts on our blog as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’re concerned about the well-being of Minnesotans, and we strive to keep you informed when something arises that could be a threat to your health and safety. It doesn’t happen every day, but sometimes products on shelves go bad, and others should never be sold at all. When manufacturers of consumer products issue recalls, retailers must stop customer access to the covered items rapidly. It’s an unhappy moment for retailer and manufacturer alike, but if you’re a retailer, recalls can also be opportunities to show customers that crises can’t defeat you. Here’s how.
Customers may not remember how well you organize your shelves, but they’ll never forget if you sell them tuna that kept their youngest child out of the school play. Be agile, reach out to your customer base confidently, and get it right the first time: your customers will be more loyal than ever.
The personal injury attorneys at Lord & Faris represent Minnesotans sickened or injured by defective or contaminated products.
April 15 has come and gone, but for many people 2012’s taxes are far from settled. While this period may be somewhat calmer for taxpayers, it’s also a ripe time for identity thieves to prey upon those who let their guard down. While we specialize in personal injury representation, we realize that many Minnesotans we come in contact with are concerned about identity theft. Ads for identity theft protection abound, but rather than paying for a service that doesn’t necessarily deliver what it promises, here are some things to be aware of in the event identity theft strikes home for you.
Vigilance is still important, particularly in areas unique to tax season. Here are some risks you could face if the IRS is still on your mind:
A common theme of dealing with identity theft is to communicate: early, often, and in detail. Your bank, creditors, relatives, Social Security office, and in these cases, the IRS, need to understand how they’re affected by the steps you’re taking to get your identity back.
The IRS has set up a telephone line to work with actual or suspected victims of identity theft, as well as people who are simply interested in knowing more. Call them at (800) 908-4490.
National Asbestos Awareness Week is held every year in April. While this annual event may only last seven days, it offers lessons and advice useful throughout the year about one of the most infamous, tragic, and wholly preventable cancers: mesothelioma. If you or those you love are concerned about asbestos or mesothelioma—if you rent an apartment or house and your landlord has never signed the disclosure about the property’s condition—if you don’t know what all the fuss is over—you need to know what it means. You may be entitled to compensation, entitled to be heard, and entitled to know you’re not alone. If you haven’t heard already, knowing the history of asbestos can help you understand why it’s not just harmful, but hard to give up. Keep these points in mind:
Despite billions of dollars of research over many decades, the exact causes and effects of most cancers are elusive. Not so with mesothelioma; its cause is unequivocal: inhalation of asbestos fibers.
Though production of asbestos in the US ceased in 1978, existing stocks of asbestos-containing building products were permitted to be used, some as late as 1986. Older homes and commercial buildings may still contain asbestos insulation, acoustical ceiling tiles, fireproofing, etc.
The lesson? Whenever you hear the word “asbestos” or see it on a form, think of it a different way. Don’t get caught up in the sophistication of the cancer’s name. When a delinquent landlord doesn’t tell you about the asbestos in the walls, he’s saying he doesn’t care about your risk of cancer. If people at work say there’s still some asbestos in the basement, they mean cancer is in the basement. It’s senseless, preventable, and easy to remember: asbestos means cancer.
If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos and believe you may have developed mesothelioma, please contact our office for a free case evaluation. The compassionate personal injury attorneys at Lord & Faris represent Minnesotans and their families who have been injured by cancer-causing or other toxic substances.
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Lord & Faris Law Firm
The Law Firm of Lord & Faris is a Minneapolis and St. Paul based personal injury law office that works for individuals and families throughout Minnesota including the following cities: Minneapolis, St. Paul, Plymouth, Burnsville, St. Louis Park, Golden Valley, Edina, Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Eagan, Richfield, Maplewood, Roseville, Brooklyn Park, Maple Grove, Blaine, Lakeville, Woodbury, Duluth, Coon Rapids, Lino Lakes, North Oaks, Stillwater, White Bear Lake, Minnetonka, Apple Valley, St. Cloud, Plymouth, Rochester, Wayzata, Excelsior, Chanhassen, Chaska, Mankato, Marshall, Hibbing, Brainerd.