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Seattle & King County Public Health have announced another outbreak of Ecoli illnesses. Here is what we currently know about this King County Ecoli Outbreak:
Public Health is investigating an outbreak of three people infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 (also known as STEC). Between October 4 – 16, 2022, 3 people from 3 separate households reported becoming ill. Cases have been among people ranging in age from 18 to 36 years old. Symptoms reported include diarrhea and abdominal pain.
The investigation is ongoing, and no source has been identified. Two of the three ill people report eating dishes that were prepared with raw or undercooked beef but we cannot rule out other possible sources at this time.
Confirmed cases have been linked through genetic fingerprinting results (whole genome sequencing) which indicate that they have the same genetic strain, meaning they likely have a common source of infection.
All three people developed one or more symptoms consistent with STEC, including diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Cases had illness onset dates from September 21 – October 12, 2022. All the cases are from separate households.
Public Health is conducting interviews with the people ill with STEC to identify any common exposures and provide guidance to help prevent further spread.
On November 2, 2022, Environmental Health Investigators visited two locations listed by some of the ill people as places they ate during their likely exposure period. Environmental Health Investigators took environmental samples (i.e. swabs) during their inspections and STEC has not been detected in the environmental samples tested so far. Additional test results are pending.
Public Health is working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Washington State Department of Health to complete further testing, to identify related cases in other counties, and to begin traceback of products in common. Traceback is used to identify points of contamination in the food supply chain.
All of the cases have confirmatory testing indicating infections with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 via culture. All confirmed cases have the same strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7, based on genetic fingerprinting (whole genome sequencing or WGS) at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory.
The bacteria known as Escherichia coli, or E. coli for short is a single celled organism that naturally resides in the intestines of healthy people and animals. While most types of E. coli are harmless and make up the normal digestive process, some can cause serious and even sometimes fatal illness. Unfortunately, the outbreak we speak of is not innocuous. The big bad bug we are talking about is E. coli O157:H7. This is a Shiga toxin-producing strain. Certainly, anything with the word toxin can’t possibly be a good thing for the human body. This bad boy causes severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. While otherwise healthy adults can still become ill from infection, they generally recover within a week with over-the-counter symptom relief treatment as the infection runs its course. However, the very young and older adults are at risk of developing additional complications such as a life-threatening form of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS.
Ecoli infections can affect anyone, regardless of age, health status, or geographic location. Those who are high risk usually have more severe infections. Of those in the highest risk group, children are among those who are most at risk to develop Ecoli infections with severe symptoms and complications.
When it comes to restaurants, prevention is almost non-existent for the customer. The only control you have over eating food prepared at a restaurant is to not eat there or to check your food when it comes out (even then, you cannot smell, taste, or visually see Ecoli). Despite this, there are still a few things you can do to protect you and yours:
Wash your hands. When eating out, keep your hands and eating surfaces clean. When preparing meals at home, washing your hands, surfaces, utensils, and cleaning after meals is vital.
Be aware of cross-contamination. Cleaning surfaces and utensils each time they are used will cut down on the spread of bacteria. This is especially important if cooking with raw meat.
Understand food risks. Again, wash all foods. Cook food at recommended temperatures. Stay away from unpasteurized milk, dairy products like raw milk cheeses, juice, and cider.
Cases of food poisoning are severely underreported. But when you report your food poisoning illness, it helps your local health department identify outbreaks and help keep the community safe.
Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water. When corporations cause Ecoli food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable. The Lange Law Firm is one of the only law firms in the nation focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits.
If you got sick in this King County Ecoli Outbreak and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help. We want you to know that an E coli Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations. Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer. Anyone who was infected with E coli may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. To learn more about this outbreak or making an E coli food poisoning claim, get in touch with our team today by contacting us online.