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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

The Last Topp’s Brand Hamburger E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak 2007 Case

I am heading to what appears to be the last case (this one a hemolytic uremic syndrome case) mediation stemming from the 2007 Topp’s Brand Hamburger E. coli O157:H7 outbreak (assuming that my flight to Los Angeles and then to Miami actually leaves).

According to the CDC, in the Fall of 2007 health officials in several states who were investigating reports of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses found that many ill persons had consumed the same brand of frozen ground beef patties. Ground beef patties recovered from patients’ homes were tested by state public health department and federal laboratories. Tests conducted by the New York State Wadsworth Center Laboratory and by a USDA-FSIS laboratory on opened and unopened packages of Topp’s brand frozen ground beef patties yielded E. coli O157:H7 isolates with several different “DNA fingerprint” patterns.

Investigators compared the “DNA fingerprints” patterns of E. coli O157:H7 strains found in ground beef with “DNA fingerprints” patterns of E. coli O157:H7 strains isolated from ill persons. As of October 26, 2007, 40 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection have been identified with PFGE patterns that match at least one of the patterns of E. coli strains found in Topp’s brand frozen ground beef patties. Ill persons reside in 8 states [Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Indiana (1), Maine (1), New Jersey (9), New York (13), Ohio (1), and Pennsylvania (12)].

Thirty-three (89%) of 37 patients with a detailed food history consumed ground beef. Seven illnesses have confirmed associations with recalled products because the strain isolated from the person was also isolated from the meat in their home. The first reported illness began on July 5, 2007, and the last began on September 24, 2007. Among thirty-three ill persons for whom hospitalization status is known, twenty-one (64%) were hospitalized. Two patients developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported. Eighteen (45%) patients are female. The ages of patients range from 1 to 77 years; 50% are between 15 and 24 years old.