A restaurant in Aurora, Colorado, Pho 75, was closed on Friday, June 10, 2016 because an E. coli O157 outbreak has been reported to public officials. Several media outlets are reporting that at least four people have been sickened after eating at the restaurant, located at 2050 South Havana Street in Aurora.
One of the four patients, a 14-year-old boy who ate at Pho 75 on May 24, has been hospitalized with serious illness. He has been in the intensive care unit with a severe case of pancreatitis since June 1, according to Fox31 Denver. The boy has improved, but is still hospitalized and may be for weeks, according to his father, Marc Thompson.
According to health inspection records posted at the Tri-County Health Department (covering Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas Counties in Colorado), an inspection at the restaurant on March 24, 2016 uncovered eighteen violations, four of them critical violations that present a foodborne illness risk. The restaurant was inspected again on March 31, 2016 and no violations were found. Inspections in 2013, 2014, and 2015 also uncovered violations, including broken and dirty equipment and raw foods held without refrigeration.
The four critical, food borne illness risk violations on March 24 included: “A bag of raw sausage was stored above ready-to-eat lettuce and ready-to-eat cucumbers in the preparation area, double-door, reach-in refrigerator. Corrected on-site. An employee in the ware washing area was observed touching dirty dishes and proceeded to touch clean dishes without washing their hands in between.”
“An employee on the cook line repeatedly failed to wash her hands before donning new pairs of gloves.An employee on the cook line failed to use their single-use gloves appropriately, as they repeatedly wore them for multiple tasks. An employee was observed touching his face with gloved hands and proceeded to touch ready-to-eat lettuce on the cook line. Cut lettuce was 48°F in a plastic container on top of the cook line, chest freezer. Cooked beef balls were 56°F in the basin of the preparation sink.”
Other March 24 violations cited in the inspection report included frozen, cooked chicken thawing on top of the wait station reach-in freezer. Thawing frozen, raw meat at room temperature can let bacteria grow. The preparation sink was not firmly attached to the wall. Edges of cutting boards were cracked, and the interiors of all of the establishment’s chest freezers had an excessive amount of ice build-up. Storage shelves were heavily soiled.
Again, the restaurant was inspected on March 30, 2016, and no violations were found.
The health department is asking that anyone who has eaten at that restaurant and has developed the symptoms of an E. coli infection should see their doctor as soon as possible. The Colorado Department of Public health and Environment does believe that more people are sick.
Those symptoms of E. coli poisoning include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, a mild fever, and vomiting. Most people get better within a week, but some, especially young children, can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) as a the result of this type of infection, which can cause pancreatitis and a host of other life threatening medical problems.
The symptoms of HUS include little to no urine output, lethargy, jaundice, easy bruising, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and a skin rash. Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.