Updated March 16, 2016. A multistate E. coli outbreak has been linked to food served at Pizza Ranch restaurants. The outbreak includes five cases in Minnesota and one in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Jersey, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
The illnesses took place between December 2015 and February 2016. Because the last case was reported February 9, the outbreak is considered over, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Two children were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a complication of E. coli infections that causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death. HUS most often affects children under 10.
Dough used to make desserts is the suspected source of the outbreak. But, health officials have not yet determined how the contamination occurred.
Pizza Ranch does business in 13 states: Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. There may be cases reported from some of those states.
In Minnesota, where five cases of E. coli O157 infection have been reported, meals linked to illnesses were purchased from December 6, 2015 to January 16, 2016. In Kansas, one case has been reported.
Elliot Olsen an attorney with the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen is representing a 7-year-old from Kansas who is part of this outbreak. “Unfortunately, young children are some of the most vulnerable to foodborne illness. E. coli can hit children particularly hard,” he said. PritzkerOlsen underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection usually develop between two and five days after exposure, but can appear within 24 hours or as long as 10 days to develop. They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a low-grade fever.
About 15 percent of children with E. coli infections will develop HUS, which causes blood cells to become misshapen and to die prematurely, clogging the kidneys. Kidney failure, heart attack, seizure and stroke are all possible complications of HUS. Children under 10 are at most at risk for HUS because their immune systems have not fully developed. For about 12 percent of children, HUS is fatal.
In 2009, an E.coli outbreak linked to Nestle Tollhouse Cookie dough sickened 72 people in 30 states. Contaminated flour was suspected as the source of the problem in the dough. Thirty-four people were hospitalized, 10 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).