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Just in time for big holiday meals, a new study shows that we have a lot more to fear from undercooked chicken than food poisoning or salmonella.

Researchers from Michigan State University found that consuming undercooked chicken can lead to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS, a disease that holds the title as the leading cause of acute neuromuscular paralysis. Believe it or not, remaining bacteria  in chicken that isn’t cooked enough can cause a chain reaction of the diseases. Yikes.

GBS may initially look like food poisoning, with sufferers experiencing diarrhea and vomiting, but within one to three weeks, the symptoms will progress to tingling in legs and arms, with paralysis eventually spreading throughout the body.

The foodborne bacteria, known as Campylobacter jejuni, infects more than one million people in the U.S. every year and can trigger autoimmune diseases like Reiter’s arthritis and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

“What our work has told us is that it takes a certain genetic makeup combined with a certain Campylobacter strain to cause this disease,” noted Linda Mansfield, the lead author of the study. In other words, some people are more susceptible to being infected with GBS than others.

But what’s most troubling with the disease is the lack of available cures.

“The concerning thing is that many of these strains are resistant to antibiotics and our work shows that treatment with some antibiotics could actually make the disease worse,” said Mansfield.

Thankfully, Mansfield and her team at Michigan State University have successfully replicated GBS three times, giving the researchers the ability to study the disease and attempt to determine which individuals are more susceptible based on their genetic makeup.

While the results of this study are concerning, using a meat thermometer when cooking is one quick and easy way to be cautious.

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