Food Safety News report that more patients are being identified by investigators working on an E. coli O157 outbreak that has been limited to Washington State. However, today Arizona officials confirmed there is a child in that state with an infection from the same strain of the pathogen.
There are 11 confirmed patients in Washington in the outbreak linked to locally produced organic yogurt sold by Pure Eire Dairy. Another three probable patients are from the Moses Lake area in Grant County, WA. Teresa McCallion of the Washington Department of Health said it is not unusual for counties and local health departments to know of probable cases before they are added to the state’s tally.
“We only report confirmed cases,” McCallion told Food Safety Newson Wednesday evening. The Washington Health Department is working on a special outbreak information web page, which McCallion said should be available soon.
Officials with the Grant County, WA, health department were not available for comment Wednesday afternoon.
In Arizona, health officials are working to confirm a suspected link between a patient there and the Washington outbreak.
“We have a case of E. coli O157 in a 2-year-old girl that matches by whole genome sequencing the cluster of cases in Washington linked to Pure Eire yogurt. It’s likely she was exposed by a relative who traveled from Washington state,” Steve Elliott of the department told Food Safety News.
In Washington, investigators from the state Department of Agriculture have collected 27 product samples of various types and 40 environmental samples, according to a department spokesman. Results of those tests are expected in the coming days.
“We are still working on assessing the yogurt production process and reviewing records as part of the investigation,” the spokesman told Food Safety News.
The dairy has shut down production of all of its products, which include unpasteurized, raw milk.
Washington State officials report that the 11 confirmed cases include six children younger than 10 years old. Seven people have been so sick they had to be admitted to hospitals. Three people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can lead to complete kidney failure and sometimes death. The sick people are spread across four counties.
Pure Eire Dairy recalled all of its organic PCC brand yogurt Friday, May 14, after outbreak patients reported eating it before becoming sick. All flavors and best-by dates of the 8-ounce and 16-ounce yogurt sold under the PCC brand has been recalled.