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Many food borne diseases are newly emerging, while others, long with us, have become more virulent. Infectious Connections focuses on more that a dozen major food borne diseases and demonstrates how the short-term infections that they inflict may lead to a wide range of long-term chronic health disorders, or increase the severity of existing health problems. Foodborne pathogens enter the body through the intestinal tract where they cause temporary upsets. However, if they go from the intestinal tract into the bloodstream, they can invade other organs, systems, and structures, where they inflict damage such as some forms of heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. For example, Salmonella can infect heart valves and lead to endocarditis. Or, Salmonella can infect the walls of the large blood vessels and lead to endarteritis, a condition found in some people with atherosclerosis. Or, the minor changes in the blood vessel walls can allow Salmonella to enter the bloodstream and go into the bone, leading to osteromyelitis.The American public has become aware of the rising incidence of food borne illness from many well-publicized outbreaks from contaminated beef, spinach, tomatoes, and numerous other foods. Factors involved in food contamination include radical changes in agricultural practices, global warming, vast amounts of imported foods, and poor personal hygiene practiced in fields, slaughterhouses, food-processing plants, institutions, restaurants, and homes. The regulatory agencies responsible for food inspection and safety are woefully inadequate for the task. Infectious Connections discusses the current dilemma and suggest ways in which the food regulators, the food chain from farm to fork, and we, the consumers, can achieve a safer food supply.
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