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Karl Ehmer / IBP E. coli Outbreak

In July of 2000, the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) learned that a stool specimen from a 20-month-old boy who had been admitted to a local hospital had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

During the course of its investigation into the boy’s illness, NJDOH learned that the boy’s parents had cooked hamburgers at home on July 22, 2000 and that the hamburgers were made from ground beef purchased from Karl Ehmer Meats. All family members began suffering symptoms of E. coli infection within days of eating the hamburgers.

By July 26, the boy’s symptoms began to worsen. He started running a moderate fever, and on July 27 his parents noticed that mucus was mixed with his stool. They contacted their son’s pediatrician multiple times over the next several days as his condition deteriorated, and on July 29 were advised to take him to the hospital.

Despite medical treatment for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), the boy died on August 1, 2000.

NJDOH tested leftover hamburger patties purchased from Karl Ehmer Meats recovered from the family’s residence and found them to be positive for a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 from the strain isolated from the boy’s stool.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) joined the investigation to determine where the contaminated meat had come from and learned the meat used to make the ground beef purchased by the family was supplied to Karl Ehmer by IBP.

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