Long-term trouble for food poisoning survivors

January 21, 2008 11:51:06 AM PST
Doctors have little way to predict which food poisoning survivors will suffer long-term consequences. But survivors of the worst-case E. coli infections have a high enough risk for later kidney-caused problems that the University of Utah recommends a yearly exam for them in hopes of catching brewing illness early.

The warning is for people who suffered a life-threatening E.

coli complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS - something that most commonly strikes children ages 2 to 7.

As they age, Utah's Dr. Andrew Pavia says these people need an annual: -Blood pressure check. That's not routine for children and young adults, but subtle kidney scarring from the HUS could cause high blood pressure early in life.

-A urine exam to check for protein, an early sign of kidney damage.

-A blood test to measure kidney function.

There is no proven way to ward off these problems. But Pavia points to early-stage research out of France that suggests if these survivors start showing early signs of trouble, such as protein in the urine, giving them certain blood-pressure medications can offer some protection. They seem to slow kidney deterioration.

It needs more study, but in the meantime, "It can't hurt to lower blood pressure a little bit and hopefully get the protective benefit," he says.