Next time you eat chicken in a restaurant, think twice as it may have been undercooked that causes paralysis. Not only Indian but also many Chinese and Western cuisines include chicken pieces which are often undercooked owing to the longevity to preserve it. More so in barbecued chicken that is eaten striaght from the grill, not to think of half-boiled eggs.
In a shocking report, a research finding by a team of researchers at the Michigan State University, USA, revealed that under-cooked chicken causes paralysis known as Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS. It’s because when chicken is not cooked to proper heat, then the bacteria can still exist and cause GBS, warned the researchers.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health Enterics Research Investigational Network, or ERIN, the team conducted study to find out how this food-borne bacterium, known as Campylobacter jejuni, triggers paralysis. Now that the reason is known, it offers scope for new information for a cure, said researchers.
“It takes a certain genetic makeup combined with a certain Campylobacter strain to cause this disease,” said Linda Mansfield, lead author and Veterinary Medicine professor. “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.”
GBS is the main cause of acute neuromuscular paralysis in humans though not much is known about how autoimmune disease develops in the human body. “We have successfully produced 3 preclinical models of GBS that represent 2 different forms of the syndrome seen in humans,” Mansfield said and added that their model can provide a unique opportunity to understand how a person’s personal genetic type may make him or her more susceptible to certain forms of GBS.
Another link to their research is that the recently-spreading Zika virus could be linked to similar bacterium and undercooked food, she said. Mansfield said there are many other bacteria and viruses associated with GBS and her models and data could be useful in studying these suspected causes, as well as finding better treatment and prevention options.
Despite the severity of GBS, treatments have been very limited and fail in many cases. In fact, the use of certain antibiotics in Mansfield’s study aggravated neurological signs, lesions and the number of immune antibodies that can mistakenly attack a patient’s own organs and tissues.
“These models hold great potential for discovery of new treatments for this paralysis,” Mansfield said. “Many patients with GBS are critically ill and they can’t participate in clinical trials. The models we identified can help solve this.”
Those suffering from GBS can initially experience vomiting and diarrhea, but can often write the symptoms off as eating bad food. One to three weeks later, they can begin to develop weakness and tingling in the feet and legs. Gradually, paralysis can spread to the upper body and arms, and even a respirator may be needed for breathing.
Campylobacter jejuni infects more than a million people yearly in the United States and is also known to trigger other autoimmune disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Reiter’s arthritis.
The findings have been published in the Journal of Autoimmunity.