Marler Clark: Pieces are coming together in nationwide E. coli O157:H7 outbreak

SEATTLE, WA - The FDA has identified Harrison Farm as the grower of the romaine lettuce responsible for the E. coli O157:H7 cluster linked to ill prisoners in Alaska. The CDC has also confirmed that the E. coli O157:H7 found in the 8 prisoners is a genetic match to the other 90 ill in the other 21 states: Alaska (8), Arizona (5), California (16), Colorado (2), Connecticut (2), Georgia (1), Idaho (10), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Michigan (3), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Montana (8), New Jersey (7), New York (2), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (18), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), Virginia (1), Washington (5), and Wisconsin (1). However, the FDA and CDC are not linking Harrison Farm to the broader outbreak at this time. To date, Marler Clark has been contacted by over 50 people who have been sickened.

The CDC and FDA are continuing to advise consumers to avoid all romaine grown in Yuma, Arizona. The FDA is waiting on more testing that could potentially link Harrison Farms or additional growers in Yuma, Arizona. An original cluster in New Jersey linked to Panera Bread Restaurants alerted health officials to the outbreak.

The CDC updated the case count to 98 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. Of the 98 people sickened, 46 have been hospitalized (53%). This is about 20% higher than the normal hospitalization rate. According to the FDA, this outbreak is more severe because of the type of Shiga toxin produced by this strain: STX2 only. 

“This is a shockingly large percentage of hospitalized and HUS cases.  It underscores the need for the produce industry to do a better job of traceability so these outbreaks are identified and stopped as soon as possible,” said Bill Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark.

STX binds to the lining of blood vessels in certain organs and can destroy the lining, the STX2 strain binds better than other strains making it particularly dangerous. This is the largest multi-state outbreak since the 2006 Dole spinach E. coli outbreak which sickened over 200 people. That outbreak was also a STX2 strain outbreak. 

To date, Marler Clark, the food safety law firm, has been contacted by over 50 people, 7 of whom have contracted HUS. The individuals are from Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin. During the 2006 Dole spinach outbreak, Marler Clark represented 93 of the individuals who were sickened. 

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 Clarkhave represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 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 KinerStephanie Smithand Linda Rivera.