The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is announcing a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections that are linked to I.M. Healthy Brand SoyNut Butter. At least twelve people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli have been reported in five states. Six of those sickened have been hospitalized. Four people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.
Epidemiological evidence at this time indicates that I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter is a likely source of this outbreak. Those products may be contaminated with E. coil O157:H7 that could make people sick. The CDC recommends that consumers do not eat, and childcare centers, schools, and other institutions do not serve, any I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter varieties or sizes, or I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter.
Even if some of those products were eaten or served and no one got sick, throw away the rest of the product. Put it in a sealed bag in the trash so other people or animals can’t eat it.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNut system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. They are using pulsed field-gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) to perform DNA fingerprinting on the STEC bacteria isolated from patients. The DNA fingerprint of this E. coli O157:H7 outbreak strain has never been seen before in the PulseNet database.
Those sickened live in five states. The outbreak case count by state is: Arizona (4), California (4), Maryland (1), New Jersey (1), and Oregon (2). Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 6, 2017 to February 15, 2017. The ill persons range in age from 2 to 48 years, with a median age of 8. Eleven of the twelve patients are younger than 18. Among the ill persons, 58% are male. Six have been hospitalized and four have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
SoyNut Butter is a nut-free substitute for peanut butter. In interviews, ill persons or their family members answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures the week before they got sick. Nine of the nine people reached for interviews reported either eating I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter at home (five people) or attended a childcare center that served I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter or I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter (four people). This proportion is significantly higher than the approximately 6% of ill persons interviewed during previous outbreak investigations who reported eating a ground nut butter or spread other than peanut butter.
The I.M. Healthy brand of SoyNut butter products are sold nationwide in stores, online, and to institutions such as daycare centers. These products have a shelf life of 2 years, so some will be in consumers’ homes. If you purchased these products, do not eat any I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter varieties or sizes or I.M. Healthy brand granola coated with SoyNut Butter.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often watery and/or bloody, and vomiting. Very young children and the elderly are most likely to suffer serious complications from this infection. If you ate any I.M. Healthy Soynut Butter product and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) include lethargy, little or no urine output, easy bruising, a skin rash, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.