Elizabeth Weise of USA Today again shows how the Nation’s Paper does a great job of covering Food Safety issues. According to her story this morning, “Food-borne illnesses cost the United States $152 billion a year, a tab that works out to an average cost of $1,850 each time someone gets sick from food,
For readers here, and those who saw the Washington Post article, who have followed Linda and her family’s struggle with E. coli O157:H7, the report that I received late yesterday from her brother-in-law is heartbreaking. It seemed only a few days ago that there was talk about her leaving the hospital (where she has been…
Chris Martin, then age seven, developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection in September 2006 following consumption of raw milk. He was hospitalized beginning on September 8, suffering from severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including bloody diarrhea. Shortly thereafter, he developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). In an effort to properly treat his rapidly deteriorating condition, Chris was…
On May 12, 2008 the Lawrence County Health Department (LCHD) was notified of a case of HUS in a child with a history of bloody diarrhea. The health care provider reported that the child had consumed unpasteurized goat’s milk obtained from a local store, the Herb Depot, in Barry County, Missouri. The milk…
On September 18, 2006, the California Department of Health Services (CDHS) opened an investigation of a possible outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections after receiving reports of two patients who had been hospitalized with HUS. One was culture confirmed as infected with E. coli O157:H7. Interviews revealed that both patients had consumed unpasteurized cow milk…
This video was produced by the New York Times less than two months ago:
It is long past time for meaningful changes in the safety of the food our children eat. Whether the food is raw, local, organic, small farm, big farm, mass-produced or slow, if it contains E. coli O157:H7, or another pathogen, it can kill. It can kill your child, grandchild or the child of a friend. …
I. THE OUTBREAK
On October 2, 2008, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued a report linking an outbreak of Campylobacter illnesses to unpasteurized milk from Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy. The report was the result of an investigation commenced on July 14, 2008, when Dr. Thomas Martinelli, the County Health Officer for Del Norte County, California reported four cases of laboratory confirmed Campylobacter infections and five additional cases of diarrhea in Del Norte County residents. Eight of the original nine sick individuals were members of the Alexandre Eco Farms “cow-leasing” program. Eight of these individuals had consumed milk produced on the farm. The ninth sick individual worked with cattle on the Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy. One of the eight individuals who were sick, Mari Tardiff, had already been hospitalized with GBS, following the onset of acute gastroenteritis after consumption of the milk.
As part of the investigation, health department officials retrieved a refrigerated carton of partially consumed Alexandre Eco Farms milk from Mari Tardiff’s home. Mari had consumed a portion of the milk before her illness. The specimen tested positive for Campylobacter jejuni DNA using a test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Testing indicated that multiple strains of Campylobacter jejuni were present in the milk. Del Norte County officials eventually identified 16 cases of Campylobacter jejuni associated with the outbreak. Fifteen of those were persons who consumed milk from Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy. The 16th case was the farm employee. CDPH and Del Norte county officials concluded that “the available epidemiologic and laboratory data support the conclusion that this cluster of acute diarrheal illness in Del Norte County was an outbreak of C. jejuni infections caused by consumption of unpasteurized milk from [Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy.]”
The causal link between Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy and Mari’s illness was so clear, and her injuries so remarkable, that the physicians that treated her published a report on her case in the medical journal. “Investigation of the First Case of Guillain-Barre Syndrome Associated with Consumption of Unpasteurized Milk – California, 2008.” Amy K. Earon, T. Martinelli, W. Miller, C. Parker, R. Mandrell, D. Vugia. The authors explained the laboratory methods used in investigating Mari’s illness:
We reviewed the patient’s medical record and interviewed her husband to assess her symptoms and exposures. We used polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and multilocus sequence typing (MLST) to test a six-week old unpasteurized milk sample, obtained from the cow leasing-program and partially consumed by the patient, for genes encoding the bacterial membrane component lipooligosaccharide (LOS) in GBS-associated Campylobacter jenuni.
In addition to the DNA testing, the authors also tested Mari’s blood for anti-bodies to GBS. The authors then explained that the PCR and MLST testing of the milk detected Campylobacter jejuni gene. In addition, the blood test was positive for anti-bodies that indicated the presence of GBS. The authors concluded, “Combined laboratory and epidemiologic evidence established the first reported association between GBS and unpasteurized milk consumption.”
II. MARI TARDIFF’S ILLNESS
On the weekend after Mari drank raw milk, she developed flu-like symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting. By Thursday, June 12, the food poisoning was overwhelming her body with an amazingly swift force. First her vision blurred. Then her hands went numb. Mari went to an emergency room, and there lab work was done and abdominal X-rays were taken. But doctors could not determine what was wrong. On Friday, Peter took Mari to a neurologist. An MRI was normal but the doctor and radiologist mentioned a frightening possibility – Guillain-Barré syndrome, or GBS, a potentially fatal inflammatory disorder.
Hours later Mari’s legs were on fire, searing with pain that, ironically, only hot water helped to soothe. Her legs hurt so much that she soon retreated to bed, wrapping her legs in warm towels and a heating blanket. During that night, Mari awoke and realized she could not move. Peter bear-hugged her to lift her to the toilet and then carried her back to bed. In the early hours of the morning, he called for help, which led to an ambulance ride to the small Sutter Coast Hospital, and then a medivac flight to the Intensive Care Unit at the larger, better-equipped Rogue Valley Medical Center (RVMC) in Medford, Oregon. She remained hospitalized for two and one-half months.
Mari was moved to Redding Rehabilitation Hospital and was finally able to come home on November 1, 2008. Today, Mari lives in her family room, which now is equipped with a hospital bed, portable toilet, a Hoyer lift and a stand-up frame, all purchased by the Tardiffs. Using their own resources, they also renovated a downstairs half-bath and laundry room into a handicapped-accessible bathroom and shower. The Tardiffs pay two nurses $10.50 an hour to care for Mari from 7:30 A.M. until 7:00 P.M. five days a week while Peter is at work. Home health physical and occupational therapists also come to the house five days a week.
Mari works very hard at therapy but it is a slow, painful process. Peter has found it so upsetting that he no longer can watch. Every improvement is celebrated, but he knows how much discomfort and frustration goes into each minute, regained movement. Mari may never walk again. She lost her job, she lost her dreams and plans that she held dear. The illness has been a long, arduous journey for Mari, her family and friends, and while she has made progress, there remains a long way to go.
READ MORE ON CAMPYLOBACTER AND GULLAIN BARRE SYNDROME
Continue Reading The Alexandre Eco Farms Dairy Raw Milk Campylobacter Outbreak
Ruby would have liked to have been there too. Her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren stood up for Ruby by suing the companies whose E. coli O157:H7 product took her life long before her time. This is yet another video of another victim of the “safest food supply in the world.”