After spending a few days at the Argibusiness Executive Conference, I am off to Salt Lake City to a Court ordered mediation of cases stemming from the E. coli O121:H19 outbreak linked to an Ogden Wendy’s. I represent five of the victims. Two cases were settled yesterday, so we will be mediating three – all HUS cases. Details of the outbreak below:
In early August 2006, public health officials in Weber County, Utah, became aware of several people who attended a teachers’ conference luncheon that had contracted E. coli O121:H19. On August 2, 2006, the Weber-Morgan Health Department (WMHD) issued a News Release indicating that three people had contracted E. coli O121:H19, and that two of the individuals had developed HUS. WMHD stated that the evidence indicated that all three people contracted E. coli from the same source sometime during June 27-30 at a restaurant in the Ogden, Utah area. By August 7, WMHD officials had revised the number of outbreak victims to four, including three who had developed HUS.
WMHD further concluded that the source of the contamination was possibly iceberg lettuce prepared at the Wendy’s Restaurant at 2500 North 400 East in North Ogden, Utah. One of the patients with confirmed HUS who had not attended the teacher’s conference had eaten cheeseburgers with iceberg lettuce at the Wendy’s Restaurant during the outbreak period. The second confirmed HUS case was an attendee of the teachers’ conference, and a third case of HUS was determined to be secondary transmission from an infected person at the conference. Eventually, WMHD determined that at least 69 people had become ill in the outbreak. Of the sixty-nine people who reportedly became ill, four remained hospitalized and were in serious condition.
Three of the HUS patients with E. coli O121:H19 were laboratory confirmed by stool culture. DNA subtyping by Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) showed that one of the individuals that was not associated with the conference, but who had consumed cheeseburgers from Wendy’s during the outbreak period, was an identical genetic match to one of the previous confirmed E. coli cases associated with Wendy’s.