Reiter's Syndrome Another Worry for Consumers of Contaminated Peter Pan Peanut ButterMay 25, 2007
Add to the list one more thing folks have to worry about if they consumed salmonella-infected Peter Pan peanut butter: Reiter’s Syndrome, a potentially debilitating and chronic form of reactive arthritis.
Reiter’s, pronounced ri’terz, can affect people who have been exposed to bacteria that cause food poisoning, such as Salmonella, Shebelle, Campylobacter, and Yersinia. When someone gets sick from one of the aforementioned bacteria, it can travel throughout the body to other areas, causing the joints between their bones to swell, also known as inflammation which can be painful. The skin, eyes, and muscles can also be affected.
The Food and Drug Administration said salmonella was discovered after inspecting a plant that made Peter Pan Peanut Butter and the Great Value brand sold by Wal-Mart Inc. The Sylvester, Georgia plant has since been shut down.
On March 1, 2007, United States health officials stated that a bacterium linked to contaminated peanut butter that sickened hundreds of people was traced to a plant owned by ConAgra Foods Inc. where it was made. Most infections – 288 so far - have been reported in Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia, and 39 states in total. The study connects the cases of food borne illness to consumption of certain types of Peter Pan peanut butter.
Meanwhile, the symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome usually show up in a few weeks, although quite unusually it can appear in months. Only a few joints are affected and warning signs include stiff, tender joints affecting the knees, ankles, feet, and wrists. Other warning signs include, but are not limited to: sore muscles, lower back pain, fever, red, sore eyes, blurred vision, mouth sores, or genital sores.
Fortunately, Reiter’s Syndrome can not be passed from person to person. Most people recover after four to five months, however, half of those who get Reiter’s Syndrome will be affected for several years.
If a Doctor who thinks that a person has Reiter’s Syndrome they will initially treat the patient with antibiotics, but antibiotics may not stop Reiter's syndrome arthritis from developing. Oftentimes people with Reiter’s Syndrome that has lasted more than a few months, will be given disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs or D.M.A.R.D.s, which try to stop the disease from getting worse. Although instant gratification is not achieved by D.M.A.R.D.s, because it usually takes two to six months before they make a difference in the pain and swelling.
Anyone who thinks they may have Reiter’s syndrome should contact their doctor immediately. Reiter's syndrome is named after Hans Reiter, a German bacteriologist who, during World War I, was the first to recognize and treat the disease.