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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) E. coli O157:H7 Cases in Central Missouri

dhss_logo.gifThe Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is investigating an increase in cases of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in Central Missouri during late March and early April, 2012. Five cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been identified during this time period. Two of the cases, a two-year old child and a seventeen-month old child, reportedly have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe, life-threatening condition that may result in permanent kidney damage in some of those who survive.

The investigation is ongoing and the source of the infections has not been identified.

DHSS recommends that any person who has signs or symptoms of STEC infection should seek medical care. Health care providers should determine if testing for STEC infection is warranted.

Symptoms of STEC infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (which is often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high. Most patients’ symptoms improve within 5–7 days, but some patients go on to develop HUS, usually about a week after the diarrhea starts. The classic triad of findings in HUS is acute renal damage, microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytopenia.

Use of antibiotics in patients with suspected STEC infections is not recommended until complete diagnostic testing can be performed and STEC infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics in patients with STEC infections might increase their risk of developing HUS. However, clinical decision making must be tailored to each individual patient. There may be indications for antibiotics in patients with severe intestinal inflammation if perforation is of concern.

Missouri has seen a lot of foodborne illness outbreaks in the past year:

  • Alisa

    H7 infection have been confirmed in Central Missouri, according to Margaret Donnelly, director of the Missouri Department of Health &
    Senior Services.
    The source of the infections has not been identified, according to the health advisory issued by the department. The investigation is ongoing.
    Two of the case patients, a 17-month-old child and a 2-year-old child, have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the severe and life-threatening complication of E. coli infection that can result in permanent kidney damage, according to the health department report.

  • Paul F Schwarz

    I have seen many past entries stating that the United States has the safest food in the world. After what my family experienced with the listeria cantaloupe outbreak I have my doubts. The outbreaks in this latest entry confirmed my views. Obviously something is terribly wrong!
    As a Missouri resident I would hope that the powers that be take whatever steps to correct these problems. I participated on a recent web conference for cantaloupe safety. The impression I got was that regulations was a dirty word but guidance was a better word to use for best practices. Guidance was what I used to receive from my father, but I didn’t always follow it. I paid the consequence for what guidance that I didn’t follow. The failure to follow guidance in food safety is sickness and death! Let’s have regulations with some teeth in them to ensure that we have the safest food in the world! Let’s not have politicians be ‘tools’ for the food industry, but ‘tools’ for the people that they are supposed to serve.
    Paul A Schwarz Jr rest in Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft Leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery!

  • julia

    I live in houston tx. And My 9 month old son test positive For e coli h7 today. He has fever, diarrhea, and fussy. But the doctors at texas childrens want us to go home and wait it out. But he was just in the hospital yestday For a corse of 6 days , caise he had clostrium difficle (c diff) . The doctors have known that his dirrhea has lasted more than 30 days so far. Any suggestions what i should do? Please.help. I need some back .
    Thank you, julia