If the recent phone calls to my office of people recently sick with E. coli, I would say soon.
In the last few days, the CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and FDA reported that they are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. A total of eight people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Three of the nine ill people have been hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. A day earlier, Canadian health authorities reported 16 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness linked to the same product in the following provinces: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador. Four individuals have been hospitalized. Information collected to date indicates that Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp chopped salad kits are a likely source of this outbreak. The investigation is ongoing to determine which ingredient in the salad was contaminated. Romaine lettuce is one of the ingredients in the salad kit.
Then there is this one – Seattle Public Health is investigating an outbreak of E. coli potentially associated with four Evergreens restaurants in Seattle. Thirteen people who became ill during November 10–15, 2019, ate dishes containing raw vegetables, including leafy greens, from Evergreens restaurants during November 5 to 11. Genetic testing on isolates from the people identified the same strain of E. coli, suggesting they have a common source of infection. This strain of E. coli is different from the strain currently causing a national outbreak associated with romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California, which the CDC announced on November 22.
Here is a bit(e) of history:
In 2017 in Canada, a total, of 42 cases of E. coli O157 illness were reported in five eastern provinces: Ontario (8), Quebec (15), New Brunswick (5), Nova Scotia (1), Newfoundland and Labrador (13). Seventeen individuals were hospitalized. One individual died. Individuals who became ill were between the ages of 3 and 85 years of age. The majority of cases (74%) were female.
In 2017 in the United States, 25 people infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157: H7 had been reported from 15 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 95 years, with a median age of 26. Among ill people, 67% were female. Nine ill people were hospitalized, including two people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. One death was reported from California.
In the Spring of 2018 in Canada, there were eight Canadian illnesses of E. coli O157 with a similar genetic fingerprint to illnesses reported in the U.S. investigation.
In the United States as of June 27, 2018, 210 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7 were reported from 36 states. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 88 years, with a median age of 28. Sixty-seven percent of ill people were female. Of 201 people with information available, 96 (48%) were hospitalized, including 27 people who developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Five deaths were reported from Arkansas, California, Minnesota (2), and New York.
In Canada, as of November 23, 2018, there had been 22 confirmed cases of E. coli illness investigated in Ontario (4), Quebec (17), and New Brunswick (1). Eight individuals were hospitalized, and one individual suffered from the hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Individuals who became ill were between 5 and 93 years of age. The cases are evenly distributed among male and female individuals.
In November 2018, 66 people infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 12 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from October 8, 2018 to October 31, 2018. Sixteen people were hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. Epidemiologic and traceback evidence from the United States and Canada indicates that romaine lettuce harvested from the Central Coastal growing regions of northern and central California is a likely source of the outbreak.
In November 2019, the CDC notified the FDA of this illness cluster in mid-September 2019 and the agency promptly initiated a traceback investigation. The FDA, CDC, along with state and local partners, investigated the illnesses associated with the outbreak. A total of 23 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 were reported from 12 states: Arizona (3), California (8), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (1), North Carolina (1), Nevada (1), New York (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (2) and South Carolina (1). Eleven people were hospitalized and no deaths were reported. Illnesses started on dates ranging from July 12, 2019 to Sept. 8, 2019. No illnesses were reported after CDC began investigating the outbreak on Sept. 17, 2019.
As of December 2, 2019, 102 people infected with E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 23 states. There have been over 50 hospitalizations, with at least 10 with acute kidney failure. Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 24 to November 18. As of December 6, the Public Health Agency of Canada has reported two illnesses related to the U.S. outbreak. Based on available traceback data, the FDA requested that industry voluntarily withdraw romaine lettuce grown in Salinas, California from the market and is requesting that the industry withhold distribution of romaine for the remainder of the growing season in Salinas. Consumers are still advised to not eat, and retailers and food service establishments to not sell or serve, any romaine lettuce harvested from the Salinas growing region.
Since 2017 there been over 500 people in the U.S. and Canada who have suffered E. coli O157:H7 illnesses linked to leafy greens grown in the U.S. Of these, nearly 200 have been hospitalized with 50 suffering hemolytic uremic syndrome (acute kidney failure). There have been seven reported deaths.
E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks associated with lettuce, specifically the “pre-washed” and “ready-to-eat” varieties, are by no means a new phenomenon. In fact, the frequency with which this country’s fresh produce consuming public has been hit by outbreaks of pathogenic bacteria is astonishing. Here is just a sample of E. coli outbreaks based on information gathered by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Kansas State University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
|July 1995||Lettuce (leafy green; red; romaine)||E. coli O157:H7||74||1:MT|
|Sept. 1995||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coli O157:H7||20||1:ID|
|Sept. 1995||Lettuce (iceberg)||E. coli O157:H7||30||1:ME|
|Oct. 1995||Lettuce (iceberg; unconfirmed)||E. coli O157:H7||11||1:OH|
|May-June 1996||Lettuce (mesclun; red leaf)||E. coli O157:H7||61||3:CT, IL, NY|
|May 1998||Salad||E. coli O157:H7||2||1:CA|
|Feb.-Mar. 1999||Lettuce (iceberg)||E. coli O157:H7||72||1:NE|
|Oct. 1999||Salad||E. coli O157:H7||92||3:OR, PA, OH|
|Oct. 2000||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||6||1:IN|
|Nov. 2001||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||20||1:TX|
|July-Aug. 2002||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coli O157:H7||29||2:WA, ID|
|Nov. 2002||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||13||1:Il|
|Dec. 2002||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||3||1:MN|
|Oct. 2003-May 2004||Lettuce (mixed salad)||E. coli O157:H7||57||1:CA|
|Apr. 2004||Spinach||E. coli O157:H7||16||1:CA|
|Nov. 2004||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||6||1:NJ|
|Sept. 2005||Lettuce (romaine)||E. coli O157:H7||32||3:MN, WI, OR|
|Sept. 2006||Spinach (baby)||E. coli O157:H7 and other serotypes||205||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov./Dec. 2006||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||71||4:NY, NJ, PA, DE|
|Nov./Dec. 2006||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||81||3:IA, MN, WI|
|July 2007||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||26||1:AL|
|May 2008||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||9||1:WA|
|Oct. 2008||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||59||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov. 2008||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||130||Canada|
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce: Romaine or Iceberg||E. coli O157:H7||29||Multistate|
|Sept. 2009||Lettuce||E. coli O157:H7||10||Multistate|
|April 2010||Romaine||E. coli O145||33||5:MI, NY, OH, PA, TN|
|Oct. 2011||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||60||Multistate|
|April 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||28||
|June 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||52||Multistate|
|Sept. 2012||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||9||1:PA|
|Oct. 2012||Spinach and Spring Mix Blend||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||14||Multistate|
|Aug. 2013||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||15||1:PA|
|Oct. 2013||Ready-To-Eat Salads||E. coli O157:H7||33||Multistate|
|Apr. 2014||Romaine||E. coli O126||4||1:MN|
|Apr. 2015||Leafy Greens||E. coli O145||7||3:MD, SC, VA|
|June 2016||Mesclun Mix||E. coli O157:H7||11||3:IL, MI, WI|
|Nov. 2017||Leafy Greens||E. coli O157:H7||67||Multistate and Canada|
|Mar. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||219||Multistate and Canada|
|Nov. 2018||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||88||Multistate and Canada|
|Sept. 2019||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||23||Multistate|
|Nov. 2019||Romaine||E. coli O157:H7||104||Multistate and Canada|
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $700 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.