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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella can be much more than a “tummy ache”

MarlerClient.jpgIn the middle of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak, last week Elizabeth Landau of CNN asked if she could talk with one of my clients who had been stricken by Salmonella and had suffered complication – more than just a “tummy ache.” Fortunately for Elizabeth, but unfortunately for my clients, it is not hard to find more than a few. Her story, “When salmonella becomes deadly,” profiled “Barbara Pruitt, who nearly lost her life when her case of salmonella got out of control last year. Pruitt, 42, of Lakeview, Oregon, has never fully recovered from the damage the infection did to her system.”

She suffered far more than a “tummy ache.”

  • It all started one day in early August 2009. She felt as if she had the flu, with achiness, fatigue and nausea. Her symptoms worsened over the next few days, until one morning at 3:30 she woke up barely able to walk, vomiting and losing control of her bowels as she tried to find her cell phone.
  • Her teenage daughter drove her to the hospital. Doctors said she was having septic shock and tachycardia.
  • Doctors removed part of her small intestine. She lost about 40 pounds in three weeks, she said.
  • Pruitt’s memory of those days is vague, but she does recall a tube down her throat while her children were standing over her.
  • In between hospitalizations, a state public health department contacted Pruitt, asking her about what she had eaten around the time of her illness. The one thing that she and others with this strain of salmonella had in common was lettuce. Pruitt had eaten a sandwich with lettuce on it the day before she initially fell ill.
  • Pruitt spent August to November in and out of hospitals. Today, she is still having bowel issues and extreme joint pain and feels sick to her stomach a lot. She can’t work more than four to six hours a day, she says.

Salmonella can be much more than a “tummy ache.”