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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Is the Cuyahoga County Ohio Board of Health investigating a cluster of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) cases associated with E. coli O157:H7?

On the eve of the July 4th weekend, The Cuyahoga County Board of Health (CCBH) released a press release that it was:

“currently investigating a cluster of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) cases associated with exposure to E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. E. Coli can cause intestinal infection resulting in severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In some people, particularly young children and the elderly, the bacterial infection produces a toxin, which can cause a complication called HUS. HUS affects the kidneys and the blood clotting system. HUS occurs in approximately 2% – 7% of cases with E. coli O157:H7 bacteria. HUS requires hospitalization and therapy.

Currently, the cluster involves three children; two from Olmsted Falls and one from Strongsville. The children are either still hospitalized or recovering at home. Two other cases of HUS among children are still under investigation.

People become infected with E. coli O157:H7 by ingesting the bacteria in undercooked beef, especially hamburger. Spread can also occur among groups of small children because of their close contact and lack of well-developed hygiene skills. Frequent and thorough hand washing, especially after using the restroom and before eating, is important in preventing spread of this disease.

The CCBH is currently investigating the cluster of cases and staying in contact with health care providers to determine if further cases have occurred. It is currently not known if these cases are associated with any current recalls of ground beef. ‘On this holiday weekend, is very important that ground beef is thoroughly cooked until a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the burger reads 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cook meat without a using a thermometer, you can decrease your risk of illness by not eating ground beef patties that are still pink in the middle, said Terry Allan, Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner. ‘Frequent hand washing while preparing food, particularly ground meat, is very important.’”

The real question is the status of the investigation and if other children are still being sickened? Also, given the timing, is there a link between either the Nestle Cookie Dough or the JBS Swift Meat national outbreaks and recalls of their products?