August 17, 2018

Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012: #10

An E. coli outbreak that sickened 18 people in nine states and took the life of a toddler in Louisiana was one of the ten largest multi-state food poisoning outbreak of 2012, based on the total number of people sickened. Despite months of investigation, a specific food source for the outbreak, which was caused by the rare strain E. coli 0145, was never identified.

In early June, Food Poisoning Bulletin discovered that multiple states had case patients whose lab tests were genetic matches of the rare E.coli stain, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to announce the outbreak several days later.  Patients who were interviewed by the CDC reported onset of E.coli symptoms, which include severe abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea,  from mid-April to mid-June. Before the outbreak was declared over 18 people, ranging in age from 1 to 79 years old were sickened. The median age of outbreak victims was 33. Most them, 78 percent, were female. Four people required hospitalization, including the young girl from Louisiana who died. The case count by state was as follows: Alabama (2), California (1), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Tennessee (1), and Virginia (1).

State and federal investigators used DNA “fingerprinting” to establish that cases in all nine states were caused by the same source. They conducted interviews with case patients but were never able to determine what specific food item caused the outbreak.  The last time a multi-state outbreak was attributed to this rare strain of E. coli, was in May 2010 when 26 confirmed and seven probable cases of E. coli 0145 poisoning were caused by tainted lettuce.

Check Food Poisoning Bulletin each day as we count down the largest multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks of 2012. Coming tomorrow:  #9.

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