September 28, 2016

Parasites That Cause Foodborne Illness and Death

Foodborne parasites can cause serious illness and death. Last summer, a cyclospora outbreak sickened at least 631 people in 25 states. This summer, the single-celled parasite is back with cases of infection reported in at least 13 states, including Texas where 155 people have become ill. Despite the recent outbreaks, cyclosporiasis is not a common parasitic infection in the U.S. Two other parasites, most commonly found in pork, beef and game are leading causes foodborne seizures and death, according to a recent report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nations ranked the top 10 foodborne parasites worldiwde. Neurocysticercosis is the leading cause of seizures from infectious disease. Every year, about 2,000 Americans are diagnosed with neurocysticercosis, which is … [Read more...]

Toxoplasmosis Parasite May Raise Mother’s Suicide Risk

A study published in the July 2012 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry has found an association between Toxoplasma gondii infections and history of suicide attempts. The study followed 45,788 Danish women who had children between 1992 and 1995. The study lasted for more than ten years. During that time period, only 78 women tried a violent suicide attempt. That makes infected women 81% more likely to attempt suicide than non-infected women. The risk increases with increasing IgG antibody levels to T. gondii. The study's authors want to emphasize that the risk of very small, and this study doesn't prove a link between T. gondii infections and suicide, but means that further studies should be conducted. Another study found a significant relationship between T. gondii … [Read more...]

Organic Meats May Have Increased Toxoplasmosis Risk

A study published in the May 22, 2012 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases has found that organic meats may have increased toxoplasmosis risk. Toxoplasmosis gondii is a single-celled parasite that used to be a significant problem in pork. The definitive host for the parasite is cats. When pigs were allowed to forage for food, they often ate food contaminated with infected cat feces, or ate wild animals and birds that contained the oocysts. That's why your grandmother used to cook pork well done to 160 degrees F, because that destroyed the parasite in all of its forms. When pork farmers changed the methods of hog raising to eliminate foraging and fed the animals processed food, the risk of toxoplasmosis fell considerably. But the current trend toward free-range food animals, … [Read more...]

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