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Yogurt E. coli Outbreak Sickens 11 Kids

Posted in E. coli,Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls on July 1, 2021

An outbreak of E. coli, which is believed to have started in early March, now includes 11 confirmed cases, including six children under the age of 10. The ongoing investigation by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) has identified a likely link to PCC Community Market brand yogurt produced by Pure Eire Dairy. Seven people have been hospitalized as a result of the outbreak, and 3 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication of E. coli infection. Here is what we know about this Yogurt E. coli Outbreak:

E. coli are a large, diverse group of bacteria found naturally in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Most strains of E. coli are not only harmless, but are actually an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract. However, some can make you sick, causing illnesses such as diarrhea, urinary tract infection, respiratory illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses.

Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high. Most people experience very mild infections that get better within 5 to 7 days. But others are severe or even life-threatening. Most people with an infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102˚F, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

Like those affected in the recent yogurt outbreak, about 5 to 10% of people who are diagnosed with an E. coli infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS develops about 7 days after symptoms first appear, when diarrhea is improving. Clues that someone is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. People with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some can suffer permanent damage or even die.

Pure Eire Dairy is working with the state Department of Agriculture to identify and recall all affected products. Anyone who has PCC Community Market brand yogurt at home should not eat it and should throw it away. Additionally, DOH and partner agencies are continuing to test food samples and gather case information in this ongoing investigation, and DOH will provide more information as it becomes available.

How can you prevent infection?

   The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with contaminated animals or people. You can avoid getting sick by following these simple steps:

  • Know your chances of getting food poisoning. People with higher chances for foodborne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
  • Practice proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.
    • Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
    • Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler, before touching an infant or toddler’s mouth, and before touching pacifiers or other things that go into an infant or toddler’s mouth.
    • Keep all objects that enter infants’ and toddlers’ mouths (such as pacifiers and teethers) clean.
    • If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (check the product label to be sure). These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and running water.

 

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.
  • Cook meats thoroughly:
    • To kill harmful germs, cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C) and allow to rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.
    • Cook ground beef and pork to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (70˚C).
    • Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe internal temperature because you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at its color.
  • Don’t cause cross-contamination in food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
  • Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
  • Don’t swallow water when swimming and when playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.

You can avoid yourself and your loved ones, especially your children, from getting sick with E. coli, as well as other food-borne illnesses, both by following the simple steps above and by paying attention to food safety recalls. However, nothing is guaranteed, and getting sick at some point is almost inevitable. If you or your loved one are experiencing symptoms of food poisoning, take care of yourselves! Drink plenty of fluids, get plenty of rest, and monitor your symptoms. If you start to experience prolonged or more severe symptoms, or if you are a person at high risk for complications, contact your doctor or go to the hospital right away.

E. coli Lawyer

E. coli lawyer Jory Lange is one of the nation’s leading food poisoning lawyers. Mr. Lange has helped families from the Mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, from Florida to California, and in states across the nation.

If you or someone in your family tested positive for E. coli and you would like to know more about your legal rights, call (833) 330-3663 to get answers now.

By: Michelle Galadik