Those affected by a food poisoning epidemic which has been linked to foods including lettuce and carrots have described a severely painful and at times paralysing experience.

Dozens of Herald readers affected by the illness have sent in messages describing what they went through, with many saying they were left bedridden, drowsy and debilitated.

Among those affected was Auckland businesswoman Ritu Banerjee, who said she was in so much pain at one point that she thought she had appendicitis.

"It mimics appendicitis. The pain started to come from the right to the mid to lower abdomen. It came in a huge wave and then it'd go away - then it would just keep doing that, constantly. The worse it got through the day, it would radiate to my back and my upper stomach."

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The 25-year-old said she found it hard to lie down and she also had a fever and fatigue over almost two weeks.

"But the worst is the constant pain. You actually can't function. It just takes over you."

Miss Banerjee said a week before she came down with the illness - in late September - she had started to eat mesclun salads for lunch every day. The salads also included grated carrots.

She visited her family doctor and, after some tests, she was told she had a viral infection.

"When I read the [news stories] and the symptoms, I was pleased in a way. I was not the only one."

Another reader, from Palmerston North, said the past month had been excruciating for him at times.

The 44-year-old, who only wanted to be known as Jason, said from the end of August to early September he had started a fresh raw foods diet - meaning he was eating a lot of lettuce on a daily basis.

Jason purchased bagged lettuce from his local New World supermarket and shortly after started to suffer from severe abdominal pain.

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"It had me on my knees. I'd be walking down the street and then suddenly be on my knees and then balled up on the street. At the worst stage it was a constant lower right-side lung pain."

Jason said he had been put off lettuce as a result.