An outbreak of E. coli O145 in three states has hospitalized 12, three of whom have developed hemolytic Uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of E. coli infection. Victims in Michigan, Ohio, and New York are ill with E. coli O145, which has been linked to a recall of tainted lettuce by Freshway Foods. HUS is a complex and life-threatening illness, and Marler Clark’s newly updated informational website www.about-HUS.com contains valuable information for consumers and media.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a complication that occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, such as the current outbreak of E. coli O145. HUS was first described in 1955, but was not known to be secondary to E. coli infections until 1982. It is now recognized as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children. Adolescents and adults are also susceptible, as are the elderly, who often succumb to the disease. The website contains research and information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and long-term prognosis, written by the top experts in the field.
Freshway Foods and the Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that romaine lettuce contaminated with E. coli O145 was sold to wholesalers, food service outlets, in-store salad bars and delis in Alabama, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. The affected lettuce has a "best if used by" date of May 12 or earlier. The recall also affects "grab and go" salads sold at Kroger, Giant Eagle, Ingles Markets and Marsh grocery stores.
The recall of Romaine Lettuce was initiated after illnesses were reported in Michigan, Ohio and New York - primarily impacting students at University of Michigan, The Ohio State University and Daemen College.
Given the time of the year, the most likely area for growing romaine lettuce is Arizona – likely Yuma. The investigation is likely hampered by the failure of health departments throughout the United States to test ill persons stools for E. coli O145, as the strain is not yet considered an adulterant by the health authorities. Previous outbreaks involving lettuce and E. coli can be found at http://www.outbreakdatabase.com.