An outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections has been linked to ground beef produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse in Athol, Massachusetts, according to the CDC. To date, there are seven confirmed case patients from four states: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (3), Pennsylvania (1) and West Virginia (1).
Five of the seven people sickened were interviewed and answered questions about the foods they ate in the week before they had symptoms of E. coli poisoning. All five of them reported eating ground beef in the week before they became ill. Health officials conducted traceback investigations, which indicated that ill people ate ground beef which had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health collected leftover ground beef from the home of one of the seven people sickened in the outbreak and from a restaurant. The beef in both instances had been produced by Adams Farm Slaughterhouse. Tests done on the ground beef samples from both the home and the restaurant found they were tainted with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, meaning the strain found in the ground beef was the same strain that had sickened people in the outbreak.
“One bite of a hamburger contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 can be fatal,” said attorney Ryan Osterholm. “Beef processors know this and need to take every measure to ensure that ground beef is safe to eat.”
Dates of illness onset range from June 27, 2016 to September 4, 2016. It can take two to three weeks for a case of E. coli to be confirmed and reported to the CDC. So there may be illnesses that occurred after September 8, 2016 that may still be reported to public health officials.
The age of people sickened range from 1 to 74, with a median age of 25. Five of the seven people sickened in the outbreak were hospitalized because they were so sick.
In most E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks, at least one person develops a severe complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure. To date, no one has developed HUS in this outbreak. Complications unrelated to HUS include severe dehydration and hemorrhagic colitis, inflammation of the colon that causes abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. In some cases the colitis can damage the colon so severely that surgery is required.
Prompted by this outbreak, on September 24, 2016, Adams Farm Slaughterhouse recalled various cuts of beef, veal, and bison products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The recall includes products originated from animals slaughtered on July 15, 25, and 27, 2016 and August 3, 8, 10, 11, 17, 24 and 26, 2016, and further processed and packed on various dates between July 21, and September 22, 2016. The products have establishment number EST. 5497 inside the USDA mark of inspection and include several lot numbers and cuts of meat. The full list can be found on the USDA website.
The recalled products were shipped to farmer’s markets, retail locations, and restaurants in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and eastern New York. The products may have also been shipped to neighboring states.