June 17, 2024

Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak – 53 Sick in Michigan, 8 with HUS

A multistate E. coli outbreak tied to lettuce on Wendy’s burgers and sandwiches includes 53 people in Michigan,  Chelsea Wuth, a health department spokeswoman told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. Thirty-one people have been hospitalized, eight of them with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure that affects some E. coli patients.

Six days ago, the Wendy’s E. coli outbreak included 43 illnesses, 24 hospitalizations, and four HUS cases in Michigan, according to an outbreak update from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. And the numbers are expected to rise as results of whole genome sequencing tests from 62 other Michigan residents stricken with E. coli infections since the end of July become available.

Wendy's Michigan E. coli Outbreak Grows


“Two things that are really alarming about the outbreak cases in Michigan are the number of HUS cases and hospitalization rate, which is almost twice the average, ” said Food Poisoning Bulletin Publisher Eric Hageman, a noted food safety attorney whose firm is representing clients sickened in this outbreak.

HUS affects between 5 percent and 10 percent of E. coli patients, most often young children. The Michigan E. coli patients range in age from 5 to 94 years old.

People with E. coli infections should not be given antibiotics or over-the-counter antidiarrheal medications as it increases the risk of developing HUS, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Symptoms of HUS usually develop about a week after initial E. coli symptoms and include pale skin, unexplained bruising, decreased urination, bloody diarrhea, shortness of breath, extreme fatigue, and swelling of legs, feet, or ankles. Anyone who develops HUS symptoms should seek immediate emergency care.

The number of cases reported from each county includes: Allegan (1),  Branch (1), Clare (1) Clinton (1), Genesee (3), Gratiot (1), Jackson (2), Kent (10), Macomb (3), Midland (1), Monroe (3),  Muskegon (1). Oakland (9), Ogemaw (1), Ottawa (6), Saginaw (1), Washtenaw (1), Wayne (4), and the City of Detroit (2).

On August 19, when the CDC last published an update on the outbreak, illnesses had been reported from three others states Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Eighty-six percent of the people interviewed by health officials said they has eaten at Wendy’s in the week before they became ill.

Wendy’s said it uses a romaine iceberg hybrid for its sandwiches, and different lettuce for its salads. The company said it had removed the hybrid lettuce for sandwiches from the affected area.

Leafy greens are the source of more E. coli outbreaks than any other food except ground beef, according to the CDC. And the top offender in that group is romaine. Between 2009 and 2018, romaine lettuce was responsible for more than half of the 40 E. coli outbreaks linked to leafy greens.

Attorneys at the Pritzker Hageman Food Safety Law Firm

If developed an E.coli infection from contaminated food, please contact our experienced attorneys for help with a possible lawsuit at 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.


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