October 14, 2019

Philadelphia E. coli Outbreak Grows to 19 Sick; No Source Found

The Philadelphia E. coli outbreak has grown to include 19 ill persons. James Garrow of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health updated Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email. The Department cannot confirm whether or not anyone has been hospitalized. The case count is accurate as of September 6, 2019.

Philadelphia E. coli Outbreak Grows to 19 Sick; No Source Found

Public health officials continue investigating the source of the pathogen. The Health Alert stated that restaurants may be involved in this outbreak, but no specific restaurants have been named yet.

The outbreak was originally reported on September 5, 2019. The age range of patients at that time was 7 to 90. This age range may have changed; but we don’t know for sure.

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E. coli outbreaks in restaurants are not common, and most often are labeled “associated with” or “possible.” In fact, the latest such outbreak is a “possible” outbreak at Mexico Viejo Restaurant in Taylorsville, North Carolina in June 2018, and an E. coli O26 outbreak that was associated with Homegrown restaurant in Washington state, also in 2018.

Symptoms of an E coli infection include a mild fever, severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody and/or watery. Most people do see a doctor when they contract this infection because symptoms are so alarming.

People usually get sick a few days to a week after exposure to the pathogen. The infection usually lasts about a week, and most require some type of medical care or assistance. In some patients, especially children under the age of 5, a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) can develop after this infection, which is a life-threatening condition with kidney failure. Symptoms of HUS include little urine output, lethargy, and pale skin.

If you have eaten at restaurants in Philadelphia and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor. You may be part of this Philadelphia E. coli outbreak.

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