Farm fresh syndrome is an epidemic of illness that’s been spreading throughout the nation, but it’s not clear how widespread it is.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that farm fresh-susceptible people have been more likely to develop symptoms, including fever, rash and cough than people with no farm fresh problem.
“In our current system, there are so many farm fresh situations, you can’t really keep track of who’s infected and who’s not,” said Dr. Karen Smith, director of the National Center for Farm Fresh Disease Research and Policy.
Farm fresh sickness is a serious problem that affects people in a variety of different ways, but its impact is particularly severe on people with diabetes, obesity and certain autoimmune conditions.
The Centers for Diseases Control and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
Smith, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues studied the data from the CDC’s National Rural Health Study.
The study included 888 people with farm fresh illness.
The participants were diagnosed at a clinic in the Washington, D.C., area and were randomly assigned to either receive a daily high-protein diet or a daily low-protein one.
After six months, the researchers analyzed the participants’ blood samples and their stool samples to look for the bacteria that cause farm fresh sickness.
They also compared the people who were diagnosed with farm sick to those who weren’t.
They found that about 50 percent of the participants had farm fresh infections, compared to only 11 percent of those who were not diagnosed.
The researchers found that those with farm fresnes had significantly higher levels of the bacterium Lactobacillus, compared with those who didn’t have farm fresh disease.
Those who had the highest levels of Lactococcus were more likely than those who had not to have farm sick.
They were also more likely in the low-carbohydrate diet group, compared and not surprisingly, to have more than three times the amount of L. reuteri bacteria in their stool.
“If you’re getting L. rosetta in your stool, you have to get that bacteria from the farm,” Smith said.
“We know that L. serotype 6 is very important for your immune system.”
The researchers also found that people who had more than 10 L. germs in their gut were more than twice as likely to have symptoms of farm freshness, compared not only to those with no problem but also to those without any farm illness.
“The risk of developing farm fresh illnesses in people who are not exposed to farm fresh bacteria is probably much higher than the risk of getting farm sick,” Smith explained.
This is because people are more susceptible to the bacteria in farm fresh environments because they are living in farm fields, Smith said, and they can pass the bacteria on to their children.
But farm fresh symptoms are not necessarily a sign of serious disease, Smith added.
“It is a possible signal of farm disease,” Smith told ABC News.
“And if we can identify people with symptoms and help them manage them, then we can reduce the incidence of farm sickness in the future.”
People with farm sickness can be exposed to many of the same bacteria that is found in the farms they visit, so it’s important to understand what they’re exposed to and how to prevent it, Smith explained, because people with more farm illness can develop a range of other health problems, including asthma and allergies.
“They can become allergic to things, or have certain reactions to foods,” Smith noted.
“So we have to figure out what’s causing those problems, and we also have to identify the source of that problem and what treatments can be used to treat those problems.”
The findings suggest that farmers should be aware of what’s in their produce, including the amount and type of LAB and what kind of bacteria is present.
“This is a problem that we have not gotten to the end of in the U.S. because there are still so many farms out there that are in the process of closing down, or in many cases, are closing down,” Smith stressed.