On Monday, October 13, 2003, the San Matero County Health Services Agency (SMCHSA) commenced an investigation based on information that a resident of the Sequoias in Portola Valley had cultured positive for E. coli O157:H7. The resident had become symptomatic on October 9, and had been hospitalized at Stanford Hospital the next day. Several more Sequoias residents reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 over the next few days.
Sixteen confirmed and probable cases of E. coli were identified. Of these, thirteen were culture-confirmed. All had onset between October 9 and 17, with 75 percent experiencing onset by October 12, and all cases were residents of “independent living” and “skilled nursing.”
Analysis done of the sixteen “case” food histories identified only one food item that was associated with illness: raw spinach. The contaminated spinach was served between October 3 and 5; it had been prewashed and pre-packaged, but not washed again by Sodexho staff in the kitchen prior to serving.
Marler Clark represented the family of Alice McWalter, who died after suffering from E. coli infection and Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) as a result of E. coli infection, and Sarah Ish, a woman who became ill with E. coli infection after eating the contaminated spinach, in E. coli litigation. The firm successfully resolved the cases after filing two lawsuits.
More about the Sequoias/Sodexho E. coli outbreak can be found on the Marler Clark-sponsored site about E. coli.