Delivrine Registre of Albany Georgia station WALB reports that an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least one young woman in Albany may be responsible for the illnesses of a dozen others.  As she reports, the investigation into the source an E. coli outbreak in Colquitt County continues.  At least a dozen people have shown up at the emergency room this week with symptoms similar to those caused by E. coli bacteria.  So far 15-year-old Lauren Hill Bannister is the only confirmed case of E. coli.  Health officials believe the common link is ground beef.

We have been involved in many outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 since the Jack in the Box outbreak of 1993, including many in Georgia.  See, Marler Clark E. coli Litigation.  Recently, we have been investigating E. coli illnesses in Ohio, Michigan and Alabama that all appeared tied to hamburger consumption.  Since the Spring of 2007, E. coli related Illnesses and Meat recalls have been on the rise.  Nearly 25 recalls have occurred amounting to over 34,000,000 pounds of meat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated in 1999 that 73,000 cases of E. coli O157:H7 occur each year in the United States. Approximately 2,000 people are hospitalized, and 60 people die as a direct result of E. coli O157:H7 infections and complications, like Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.  The majority of infections are thought to be foodborne-related, although E. coli O157:H7 accounts for less than 1% of all foodborne illness.

While the majority of foodborne illness outbreaks associated with E. coli O157:H7 have involved ground beef, such outbreaks have also involved unpasteurized apple and orange juice, unpasteurized milk, alfalfa sprouts, and water.  An outbreak can also be caused by person-to-person transmission of the bacteria in homes and in settings like daycare centers, hospitals, and nursing homes.