A rise in the number of Escherichia coli cases requires diligent detection efforts.
By Debby Giusti, MT(ASCP)
Ten-year-old Brianne Kiner spent 40 days in a coma in 1993, while teams of medical personnel worked round-the-clock to keep her alive. Brianne has little memory of the 118 days she was on kidney dialysis or the 80 units of blood she received, nor does she recall the numerous times the doctors told her mother that Brianne wouldn’t live through the night. What Brianne does remember is that her hospital ordeal left her with the dubious recognition of being the sickest child in the United States to survive Escherichia coli 0157:H7.
Over a 3-month period, more than 700 children and adults in four states in the northwest became ill after eating at various Jack in the Box restaurants. They suffered severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often bloody, and close to 200 of the ill had to be hospitalized. Fifty-five cases progressed into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that can lead to kidney failure and even death. Children and the elderly are most at risk for HUS, and in the 1993 outbreak, four children died.
Epidemiologists quickly recognized that those infected had eaten undercooked hamburgers served at more than 90 Jack in the Box restaurants in the four state area.2 The beef shipped to the restaurants was found to be contaminated with E. coli 0157, and to date, the outbreak remains the largest in U.S. history caused by the organism.


Continue Reading E. coli’s Insidious Spread

A Washington state court yesterday approved the settlement of a lawsuit under which a 12-year-old girl who nearly died after eating a tainted hamburger will get $15.6 million.
Under the settlement Foodmaker Inc., operator of Jack in the Box restaurants, meat processor Von Stores Inc. and various slaughterhouses will pay the sum to Brianne Kiner,