Ohio E. coli may be part of multi-state outbreak


SEATTLE – Three confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Fayette County, Ohio, may be linked to a larger, multi-state outbreak of the bacterial infection, according to a story in the Washington Court House Record Herald on Saturday.

When ingested, E. coli O157:H7 attaches itself to the inside surface of the large intestine and causes inflammation of the intestinal wall. Symptoms of E. coli infection typically appear within 2-10 days, and include severe stomach cramping, followed by diarrhea, which can become grossly bloody. E. coli symptoms sometimes include vomiting. Children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems are most at-risk for developing E. coli infection and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a complication of E. coli infection.

“E. coli illnesses are not pretty,” said William Marler, a Seattle attorney who has represented hundreds of victims of E. coli poisoning. “And although they are preventable, most E. coli infections develop after a person ingests food contaminated with this deadly pathogen.”

E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks have been traced to contaminated foods such as ground beef, unpasteurized milk and juices, and fresh fruits and vegetables. The bacterium lives in the intestines of healthy cattle, and is spread through contamination of food or water sources with animal feces.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome is a frightening illness that even in the best American medical facilities has a mortality rate of about 5%. About 50% of patients require dialysis due to kidney failure, 25% experience seizures, and 5% suffer from diabetes mellitus. The majority of HUS patients requires transfusion of blood products and develops complications common to the critically ill. Among survivors of HUS, about five percent will eventually develop end stage kidney disease, with the resultant need for dialysis or transplantation, and another five to ten percent experience neurological or pancreatic problems which significantly impair quality of life.

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Background: William Marler and his legal partners at Marler Clark have extensive experience representing victims of E. coli O157:H7 and HUS. Marler represented Brianne Kiner in her $15.6 million settlement in the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli litigation. The firm has since obtained substantial settlements on behalf of victims of the Odwalla juice E. coli outbreak and outbreaks traced to contaminated ground beef, lettuce, sprouts, cantaloupe, and other foods. Marler Clark has litigated against such companies as KFC, McDonald’s, Hardees, Subway, Carl’s Jr., Chili’s, Chi-Chi’s, and ConAgra.