Another child has been added to the list of patients in an E. Coli outbreak linked to local, organic yogurt. Some production at the implicated dairy, Pure Eire, remains shut down.
The Washington Department of Health reported to Food Safety News that the state has confirmed 16 people are sick. Eight have had such severe symptoms that they had to be admitted to hospitals. Four of the patients have developed Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that can be fatal.
There are two confirmed patients in Arizona who became infected after contact with visitors from Washington state. They are considered secondary cases and are not included in the Washington state count.
Health department inspectors and investigators from the state’s Department of Agriculture are continuing their investigation into the outbreak. Most of the sick people report eating organic yogurt made by the Pure Eire Dairy in Othello, WA. Both PCC brand and Pure Eire brand yogurt have been recalled.
Yogurt production at the dairy remains shut down, according to a spokesperson from the agriculture department.
“The dairy has resumed production of pasteurized milk, but its production of yogurt remains offline. We anticipate collecting samples of the milk for testing,” the spokesperson told Food Safety News.
Previous test samples collected at the farm were negative for the outbreak strain of the pathogen, but the implicated lots were likely no longer available for testing.
About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.
People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.
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