May 24, 2019

Minnesota E. coli O111 Outbreak Sickens 13

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is investigating 13 cases of E. coli O111.  All of the illnesses were caused by the same genetic strain, as determined by laboratory testing.

E coli bacteriaThe ill persons are not related, which indicates the illnesses result from a widely distributed food item. This genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been seen in the United States until this outbreak.

Seven of the people sickened reported to MDH that they ate at Applebee’s restaurants in Minnesota between June 24 and 27, 2014, but the other cases have no apparent connection to the restaurant. The Applebee’s restaurants involved in the outbreak are in Blaine, Duluth, Monticello, Roseville and Woodbury.

According to MDH, Applebee’s is cooperating with the investigation and with public health officials. The restaurant removed the Oriental Chicken salad from its menus while the investigation is ongoing, as well as removing ingredients used in the Oriental Chicken salad from other items on the menu.

Attorney Ryan Osterholm, an experienced attorney who represents those sickened in food poisoning outbreaks, said, “The outbreak is simply more proof that we remain vulnerable to disease due to breakdowns in the food supply chain.  Ominously, the threats are evolving as this genetic strain of E. coli O111 has not been before in the United States.”

The symptoms of an E. coli O111 outbreak include stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Patients usually have no fever or only a mild fever. E. coli O111 is in the same family as E. coli O57:H7 and produces shiga toxins, which enter the bloodstream and travel to the kidneys, where they cause extensive damage. People usually become ill one to eight days after exposure to E. coli bacteria. Complications from this infection include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure.

Four of those sickened have been hospitalized; all are recovering or have recovered. If you have experienced the symptoms of an E. coli infection, please see your doctor immediately and tell him about this outbreak. Diarrhea associated with an E. coli infection should never be treated with antibiotics, since this may promote complications such as hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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