As expected, the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to the SoyNut Butter Company’s I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter products has grown. The CDC has just released an update on their investigation into this outbreak. Now, 23 people in 9 states are ill with the outbreak strain of E. coli. That’s an increase of seven patients since the initial outbreak report on March 13, 2017.
Ten of those sickened have been hospitalized. And seven people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. Twenty, or 87%, of the ill persons in this outbreak are under the age of 18. No new states are included in the update.
The patient case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (6), Virginia (2), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (1). Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 4, 2017, to March 5, 2017. Ill people range in age from 1 to 48 years, with a median age of 8. This outbreak may grow, since it can take two to three weeks from the time a person starts feeling sick until they are diagnosed and that diagnosis is reproved. The last reported illness started on March 5, 2017.
Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter is the “likely source” of this outbreak. That product may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.
There was an unusual paragraph in the outbreak report. It states, “Investigators have reported to CDC two more ill people who either developed HUS or had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with STEC bacteria. In interviews, both of these ill people reported eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter in the week before becoming ill. However, CDC is not including these people in the outbreak case count because no bacterial isolates, or samples, were available for DNA fingerprinting.”
Lab testing found the outbreak strains of STEC O157:H7 in I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from patient’s homes and from retail locations. At least one of the strains of bacteria in this outbreak has never been seen before in PulseNet, the nation’s outbreak laboratory library.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients sickened with E. coli infections, said, “It is tragic that children ate a product they and their parents believed safe, only to become seriously ill with hemolytic uremic syndrome and complications from the initial infection. We hope that everyone sickened in this outbreak recovers quickly and completely.”
On March 7, 2017, the SoyNut Butter Company, the maker of this brand, recalled all varieties of I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butters and all varieties of I.M. Healthy Granola products. On March 10, 2017, that recall was expanded by the company to include Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter. The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and that childcare centers, schools, and other institutions to not serve, any variety or size of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter, I.M. Healthy brand granola, or Dixie Diner’s Club brand Carb Not Beanit Butter, regardless of the date of purchase or the date listed on the container. Even if the product has been partially consumed and no one has gotten sick, throw it away in a sealed container. E. coli bacteria can cluster in microscopic amounts in a product.
The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, and a mild fever. Symptoms usually start a few days after exposure to the bacteria.
If this illness occurs in a young child or if it is improperly treated with antibiotics, it can develop into a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The symptoms of HUS include very little or no urine output, tiredness, lethargy, pale skin, easy bruising, and a skin rash. This syndrome is very serious and can cause kidney failure and death. If anyone is experiencing these symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately.
Pritzker Hageman law firm helps people sickened by contaminated food such as the I.M. Healthy product get answers, compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against food processors, restaurants, retailers, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are so unique.
If you have a question or something to say about this outbreak, leave a comment. We will keep you informed as more news is released from the CDC, FDA, and the states.