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Shellfish from Korea Infected with Human Waste

Ranking high on the list of nausea-inducing recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has urged the removal of South Korean oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops from the market, saying the products may have been exposed to human fecal waste and contaminated with norovirus, reported MSNBC.

According to recent reports, the problem arose as a result of Korean commercial fishing companies having fished in waters heavily polluted with human waste.

So far, a number of Americans have become sick from eating the contaminated food. Norovirus is an RNA virus that has been cited as the cause of almost 90% of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis around the world, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention speculate that it may be responsible for nearly half of all foodborne pandemics of gastroenteritis in the United States. The virus may be transmitted by food or water that has been infected by human fecal matter, by person-to-person contact, contact with contaminated surfaces, or by aerosolization of the virus, such as when a toilet is flushed.

Symptoms of illness caused by norovirus often resemble the common stomach flu, and may include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Other symptoms may include a low-grade fever, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, and chills. Although the majority of these symptoms aren’t life threatening, diarrhea and vomiting can potentially expose a person to dehydration and malnutrition, which could require hospitalization, especially for young children and the elderly. Norovirus is highly contagious.

At this point, the F.D.A.’s regulatory warning includes all canned and processed seafood products that contain the seafood types known as molluscan shellfish that entered the United States from Korea. MSNBC reports that, while some food companies have already removed the products from their distribution networks, not all have yet complied.

In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report estimating that each year roughly 48 million people are sickened by a foodborne illness. Of those, 125,000 require hospitalization and 3,000 die after consuming contaminated foods purchased from retail stores or restaurants. Corporations that distribute food owe a duty of care to their customers; this is especially true when companies disseminate food. In this case, American distributers of Korean shellfish are compelled to pull the product from their shelves, and may potentially be liable for damages in an Illinois personal injury lawsuit if their failure to comply leads to serious illness or injury.

Victims of foodborne illnesses who suffer serious personal injury, hospitalization, or death may be able to seek compensation for economic and non-economic damages, if a manufacturer or distributer is responsible for the failure to contain the infection. Our Illinois personal injury attorneys have extensive experience handling Illinois food poisoning cases, including having obtained a $4 million settlement for three convention attendees who contracted salmonella poisoning that caused them to suffer crippling arthritic injuries.

Our Chicago personal injury lawyers want people to be careful. As per the FDA’s recommendations, our attorneys urge consumers to check seafood labels and contact seafood vendors, if they are concerned about products they have purchased, and throw out any found to be from South Korea.

If you or a loved one have suffered from a foodborne illness, seek immediate medical attention. A doctor will be able to diagnose if you have been infected with salmonella poisoning. Additionally, an attorney may be able to apprise you of your rights under the law.