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Maryland Ecoli Outbreak Goes Multistate – Are We Dealing with Romaine Again?

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on November 20, 2019

The CDC just announced a new multistate Ecoli outbreak. Their announcement, however, is a bit odd. It appears the Maryland Ecoli outbreak cases linked to Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad are part of the mix (no pun intended) but those in other states who have tested with the same strain of Ecoli have not reported eating that particular product. Nothing is mentioned in the announcement as to whether lettuce or lettuce products were eaten by others who are sick. Further, 6 Wisconsin cases are included in the outbreak. Could these be linked to the 20-case mystery source in the Wisconsin Ecoli outbreak?  Could romaine be to blame again? While the theories are flying around about this multistate Ecoli outbreak, here’s what we know:

  • A total of 17 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 8 states.
    • A total of 7 hospitalizations have been reported, and no deaths.
  • Whether or not ALL of the Wisconsin Ecoli cases are included is not yet known. It looks like they are though based on the CDC’s internal links.
  • The Maryland Department of Health identified E. coli O157 in an unopened package of Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad collected from a sick person’s home in Maryland.
    • Further laboratory testing is currently underway for this sample to determine if it is closely related genetically to the E. coli found in people in this outbreak.
    • Ill people in Maryland reported eating Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salad.
  • In initial interviews, ill people in other states have not reported eating this particular salad.
  • So – State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before their illness started.
  • It is unknown if lettuce or romaine is a possible suspect in these cases.
  • BUT – The FDA is tracing back the supply of the romaine lettuce in the salad and has identified possible farms in Salinas, California. Preliminary information indicates that romaine lettuce used in the product that tested positive was harvested in mid-October and is no longer within current expiration dates.
  • The investigation is ongoing.

States Involved in the Multistate Ecoli Outbreak

State Ill People
Arizona 1
California 2
Colorado 1
Idaho 3
Maryland 2
Montana 1
Washington 1
Wisconsin 6
Total 17

About the Illnesses

We do know the timing of illnesses based on the current confirmed cases.

The illness onsets appear to have started in mid-September and have continued steadily through mid-November.

According to the CDC:

“Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 24, 2019, to November 8, 2019. Ill people range in age from 3 to 72 years, with a median age of 16. Fifty-six percent of ill people are female. Of 17 ill people with information available, 7 hospitalizations have been reported, including 2 people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.”

Also, “Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on E. coli bacteria isolated from ill people by using a standardized laboratory and data analysis method called whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these sequences that are used to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives investigators detailed information about the bacteria causing illness. In this investigation, WGS showed that bacteria isolated from ill people were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.”

It is, however, very likely that there are more cases that have not yet been linked to the outbreak – due to the time it takes from illness to reporting to outbreak link. This process can sometimes take a few weeks.

CDC Recommends During this Multistate Ecoli Outbreak

Do not eat or sell Ready Pac Foods Bistro® Chicken Caesar Salads with a “Best By” date of October 31, 2019.

  • The salads were sold in many states and at many retailers.
  • The packages are marked with lot number 255406963.
  • If you have this salad at home, do not eat it and throw it away.

Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection.

  • Talk to your healthcare provider.
  • Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
  • Report your illness to your local health department.
  • Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.
  • Prevent infections in others by practicing proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.

What is Ecoli?

Ecoli (Escherichia coli) is a bacteria that lives in all animals, including humans. Most types of Ecoli are safe to husman, 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

Looks like a list for the common flu. These are also what it feels like to have Ecoli. As you can see, there is little difference without seeking medical help. That is my admonishment: please do not take any sickness lightly. Make sure you see a medical professional as soon as possible because the alternative is not pleasant.

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.

Our E coli Lawyer is Here to Help You

If you believe you have developed an E coli infection, we want you to know that an E coli lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this Multistate Ecoli Outbreak 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 from this outbreak may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.  To learn more about this outbreak or making an E coli food poisoning claim, please speak with our team at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC.

If you or a loved one have become ill with E coli, you can call (833) 330-3663 for a free legal consultation or complete the form here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola, Editor (Non-Lawyer)