July 12, 2024

Five Hospitalized, Two HUS, and One Death in E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

Five people have been hospitalized, two have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and one person has died in the multistate E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that may be associated with romaine lettuce, Brittany Behm, Public Affairs Specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told Food Poisoning Bulletin. At least 17 people are sick in 13 states.

E. coli HUS

The states where ill persons live are California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington. Each state, except for California, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, has one patient.

In Canada, at least 41 people in five provinces are sick, and one person has died, according to Public Health Canada. In that country, officials are recommending that consumers avoid eating romaine lettuce in those provinces, since epidemiological evidence has pointed to that leafy green as the source of the pathogenic bacteria.

The CDC has conducted preliminary tests on isolates taken from ill persons in this country. They have concluded that the type of E. coli O157:H7 that is making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically. That means that it’s likely that there is a common source of infection.

While the U.S. government has not made any recommendations about avoiding a particular food, Consumer Reports issued a statement yesterday saying that it would be wise, particularly for people in high risk groups, to avoid that type of leafy green.

If you have eaten romaine lettuce and have been ill, it would be a good idea to see your doctor. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections can be serious, have long term health consequences, and can be life-threatening. This infection has symptoms that include diarrhea that is bloody or watery, severe abdominal cramps, and a mild fever.

HUS is the most serious complication of this infection. It usually occurs a few days to a week after symptoms of E. coli appear. People suffering from this condition have little or no urine output, experience lethargy, pale skin easy bruising, and a skin rash. The Shiga toxins travel through the bloodstream, attack red blood cells which die, and can then clog tiny tubes in the kidneys. HUS can cause kidney failure, seizures, and strokes. Anyone experiencing these symptoms must see a doctor immediately.

The noted law firm Pritzker Hageman helps people who have been sickened by contaminated food protect their legal rights and get answers and compensation. Our lawyers help patients and families of children in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against growers, importers,  retailers, grocery stores, food processors, restaurants, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for a young client whose kidneys failed because he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome after he contracted an E. coli infection. You should know that class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because each individual case is very different.


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