Health experts believe that there is an increasing prevalence of beef tapeworm and other foodborne illnesses these days. Most of them blame this on factories producing food. This is because nearly 99 percent of the food eaten in the U.S. is produced in factory farms. These include illnesses caused by meat tapeworms, salmonella in tomatoes and E. coli in spinach and so forth. Foodborne illnesses are infections of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract caused by harmful parasites, viruses, bacteria and even chemicals contained in foods or beverages.
People who get ill from these contaminated foods usually display symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, fever, and chills. Most of these illnesses usually do not require treatment because they happen suddenly and only last for a short time. It is in only rare cases where foodborne illnesses lead to fatal complications. Some of the most common foodborne illnesses include:
E.coli – is a pathogen that lives in the intestines of ruminant animals like cattle, deer, goats, elk and sheep. It usually finds its way into foodstuff when fecal matter gets into the food. E.coli is not harmful when it is in the intestines of the host animals, but it makes humans sick once ingested. During the slaughtering process, animal intestines usually get cut allowing the bacteria to contaminate the meat.
Additionally, putrefying waste dumped into huge open-air cesspits by pig and dairy cow factories sometimes leak and contaminate water used to irrigate crops. These are some of the ways the E.coli bacteria finds its way into the meat and vegetables that humans consume almost every day. Beef tapeworm and other foodborne illnesses can also contaminate food in the same manner. Some of the biggest culprits for E.coli contamination include ground meat, cheeses made from raw milk and spinach. In addition, there are studies that show that humans can get E.coli from a raw or undercooked hamburger and unpasteurized milk.
Mad Cow Disease – Though humans can never really get mad cow disease, animals infected with this ailment usually contract a form of the disease known as variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease (vCJD). It is this vCJD that is transmissible to humans who eat infected beef. Scientists think that the disease is passed when a person eats meat that contains brain tissue. The cow parts that are considered to be most infectious are the retina, brain, dorsal root, optic nerve, and spinal cord. There are some studies that indicate that in some instances muscles can also get infected. This means that most cuts of meat could be dangerous when consumed by humans. This ailment can cause symptoms like hallucinations, dementia, difficulty walking and even seizures. Death can occur in humans who are infected in a matter of months or weeks.
Salmonella – Just like E.coli, salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal walls of animals and can be passed when feces get into uncooked food. Every year, tens of thousands of cases of salmonella are reported. However, most people usually do not seek treatment and so the numbers could be even higher. Animals that carry these bacteria do not get sick. The most common symptoms of salmonella infection are abdominal pains or fever, within one to three days, and diarrhea. Though the illness usually disappears after seven days, it is important for people infected with salmonella to drink a lot of water to replenish fluids lost through diarrhea.
Health experts claim that the constant reappearance of illnesses like beef tapeworm and E.coli is caused by the poorly regulated factory farming sector. These factories squeeze many animals into small enclosures that lead to fast transmission of diseases between these animals, which are later slaughtered and sold to unwary consumers. For instance, enclosing many hens in tiny battery cages has been known to cause rapid salmonella infection through airborne fecal dust. People are usually advised to cook their beef and other meats thoroughly and wash their hands before eating. By doing this, an individual will avoid getting infected with beef tapeworm and other foodborne illnesses.
By Michael Obunga