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2 Mystery Ecoli Outbreaks – Leafy Greens Ecoli Outbreak Again?

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on October 30, 2020

The CDC and FDA have announced two mysterious outbreaks this week. At this time, no particular food item(s) have been identified and no recalls have been announced. Could this mean another Leafy Greens Ecoli Outbreak?

Outbreaks Abound – What We Know

Outbreak #1

  •  21 people in 8 states are ill
  • 8 people have been hospitalized
  • 1 person (from Michigan) has died.
  • Illness onset dates range from June 6, 2020 to October 5, 2020
  • The patient age range is from 2 to 75 years
  • Of 16 people who gave information to investigators, eight were hospitalized
  • One person developed HUS
  • Investigators have identified and illness cluster at a restaurant that was not named

The patient case count by state is: California (7), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (1), Ohio (7), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (1).

Outbreak #2

  • 23 people in 12 states
  • 10 people have been hospitalized
  • Of 15 people who gave information to investigators, 10 were hospitalized, including two who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.
  • A specific food item hasn’t yet been identified as the culprit, but of 13 people interviewed, all ate various types of leafy greens, including iceberg lettuce (9), romaine (8), mixed bag lettuce (6) and spinach (9) before getting sick
  • Illness onset dates range from August 17, 2020 to October 8, 2020
  • The patient age range is from 5 to 81 years
  • This outbreak is caused by the same strain of bacteria that contaminated romaine lettuce and sickened 167 people in 27 states in 2019. While this information is significant, it doesn’t mean that this outbreak was caused by leafy greens.

The patient case count by state in this outbreak is: California (2), Illinois (1), Kansas (4), Michigan (2), Missouri (2), North Dakota (4), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2).

Additional illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. The investigations into the sources for these two outbreaks are ongoing. The two outbreaks have different strains of Ecoli O157.

What is Ecoli?

Ecoli (Escherichia coli) is a bacteria that lives in all animals, including humans. Most types of Ecoli are safe to humans, and even our intestines use Ecoli to break down food. The difference is some of E. coli strains are pathogenic. These are the types that cause unpleasant and sometimes serious illnesses.

Signs and Symptoms

Like most other foodborne symptoms, Ecoli is hard to diagnose. This is not due to the ability for hospitals to test to see what has made you ill, it is because the signs are mostly all the same. Do any of these symptoms look familiar?

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

The majority of people infected with E. coli will exhibit symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal cramps within 2 to 8 days after ingestion of the bacteria.

Urgent medical attention is highly recommended if you or someone you love has the above symptoms. Early medical attention can help reduce the risk of more severe illness and potential long-term complications.

In extreme instances, pay special attention to these indicators that something is severely wrong:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Dehydration
  • Bruising
  • Pale skin

In some circumstances a more serious illness may develop, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).  HUS is a type of kidney failure that develops as a result of E. coli infection.

How Then Does Ecoli Get on My Salad?

Lettuce, like many other crops, is grown in the ground. If the seeds have been watered with contaminated water or fertilized with contaminated manure, the plant grows with the bacteria. The bacteria live and grow in the root system, in the leaves, and in the plant itself.

Scientists are still working out the details of this micro-phenomenon. In a New York Times article I read, published back in 2011, it was represented that “[s]cientists in the United States and Europe are working to identify the risky junctures in the supply chain, noting recently, for example, that bacterial counts in refrigerated greens may rise before the leaves look tainted and that E. coli may be integrated into the fiber of some vegetables, making washing them ineffective against E. coli.”

The Concerns for Children and Other High Risk Individuals with Ecoli Infections

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.

Where Does Ecoli Come From?

Ecoli come from animals. Most E. coli are harmless and are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

As for STEC Ecoli, according to the CDC, “STEC live in the guts of ruminant animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, deer, and elk. The major source for human illnesses is cattle. STEC that cause human illness generally do not make animals sick. Other kinds of animals, including pigs and birds, sometimes pick up STEC from the environment and may spread it.”

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

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 from eating ground beef contaminated with Ecoli 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 s may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  To learn more about the this potential Leafy Greens Ecoli Outbreak or making an E coli food poisoning claim, please contact the Lange Law Firm, PLLC by phone or contact us online.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola