About E. coli

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About E. coli Blog

E. coli Outbreak expands from seven to nine

The Snohomish Health District said Tuesday it has identified two cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in Snohomish County residents. Following public health interviews, these cases do appear to be connected to a cluster of STEC cases among seven children in King County.

Seattle King County Public Health is investigating a new cluster of seven children infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (also known as STEC) in King County. All cases are currently under 15 years of age, and three are under 5 years of age. Cases have been reported during April 22–May 1, 2021.

Our investigation is ongoing. We have identified multiple types of fresh produce, mostly organic, in common among the majority of cases but cannot yet rule out other possibilities. We are still uncertain if these cases share the same source of their infection or not. Updates will continue to be posted when more information is available.

All 7 children developed symptoms consistent with STEC, including diarrhea (often bloody), abdominal cramping, nausea, and vomiting. Illness onsets occurred during April 17–29, 2021. Six children have been hospitalized; this includes two children who developed a type of kidney complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and both are recovering.

The local cases involve a woman in her 20s and a child under 10 years of age from separate households. The child has been hospitalized, but no further information will be shared on the cases due to patient privacy.

Romaine E. coli Outbreak Sickens 12

As of November 9, 2020, a total of 12 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from six states.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from September 2, 2020, to October 14, 2020. Ill people range in age from 8 to 62 years, with a median age of 21 years. Sixty-seven percent of ill people are female. Of 11 ill people with information available, 5 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of E. coli O157 Infection for more details.

On November 6, 2020, Tanimura & Antle recalled packaged single head romaine lettuce after the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) identified E. coli O157:H7 in a sample of the packaged romaine lettuce. WGS results showed that the E. coli strain in the romaine lettuce sample was closely related genetically to the E. coli strain identified in ill people.

State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before they got sick. Of the 11 people interviewed, all reported eating various types of leafy greens, including romaine lettuce (5), spinach (5), iceberg lettuce (3), and red leaf lettuce (3).

There is not enough epidemiologic and traceback information available at this time to determine if ill people got sick from eating Tanimura & Antle romaine lettuce. The investigation is ongoing to determine if additional products may be contaminated with the outbreak strain of E. coli.

Do not eat, sell, or serve Tanimura & Antle’s recalled packaged single head romaine lettuce.

51 in US sick from E. coli-tainted Sprouts

Up from last months count of 39 , the CDC announced today that a total of 51 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 were reported from 10 states – Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Florida, Virginia and New York.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from January 6, 2020, to March 15, 2020. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 79 years, with a median age of 29 years. Fifty-five percent of ill people were female. Of 41 ill people with information available, 3 were hospitalized and no deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicated that clover sprouts were the source of this outbreak.

Seventeen (63%) of 27 people interviewed reported eating sprouts at a Jimmy John’s restaurant. Jimmy John’s LLC reported that all of their restaurants stopped serving clover sprouts on February 24, 2020. Clover sprouts are no longer available at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

Additionally, FDA identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in samples of Chicago Indoor Garden products that contain sprouts. On March 16, 2020, Chicago Indoor Garden recalled all products containing red clover sprouts.

FDA’s traceback investigationexternal icon showed that a common seed lot was used to grow both the sprouts recalled by Chicago Indoor Garden and sprouts that were served at some Jimmy John’s locations. The same seed lot was also used to grow sprouts linked to an outbreak of the same strain of E. coli O103 infections in 2019.

10 State E. coli Outbreak Sickens Nearly 200

Florida 5, Georgia 49, Illinois 1, Indiana 1, Kentucky 69, Minnesota 1, Mississippi 1, Ohio 12, Tennessee 55 and Virginia 2

Since the last update on April 26, 2019, 19 more ill people were added to this outbreak.

As of May 13, 2019, 196 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 have been reported from 10 states. CDC is reporting the 196 illnesses that the PulseNet laboratory network has confirmed are part of this outbreak. States are investigating additional illnesses that might be a part of this outbreak. A list of the states and the number of confirmed cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates from March 1, 2019, to April 19, 2019. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 84 years, with a median age of 19. Fifty-two percent are female. Of 174 people with information available, 28 (16%) have been hospitalized. No deaths and two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome have been reported.

This multistate investigation began on March 28, 2019, when officials in Kentucky and Georgia notified CDC of this outbreak. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that ground beef is the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of the 147 people interviewed, 115 (78%) reported eating ground beef. This percentage is significantly higher than results from a survey pdf icon[PDF – 787 KB] of healthy people. Ill people bought or ate ground beef from several different grocery stores and restaurants. Many ill people bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make dishes like spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe.

Officials in Tennessee collected ground beef from a restaurant where ill people reported eating. Laboratory testing identified the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 in the ground beef collected in Tennessee.

Two companies recalled raw ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli. Grant Park Packing in Franklin Park, Ill., recalled approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 24, 2019. K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., recalled approximately 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 23, 2019. These products were sold to restaurants and institutions.

USDA-FSIS and state regulatory officials continue to collect products for testing and continue their traceback investigations to determine the source of ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurants where ill people ate. At this time, no common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified that could account for the whole outbreak.

10 with HUS tied to Romaine E. coli Outbreak

There are 98 cases in 22 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). The current outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to leafy greens. People in the previous outbreak were infected with a different DNA fingerprint of E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.

The most recent information collected by the FDA, in conjunction with federal, state, and local partners, indicates that the romaine lettuce that ill people ate was likely grown or originated from the winter growing areas in or around the Yuma region. This region generally supplies romaine lettuce to the U.S. during November-March each year.

The FDA has identified Harrison Farms as the source of the whole-head romaine lettuce that made several people ill at a correctional facility in Alaska. However, the agency has not determined where in the supply chain the contamination occurred. The FDA is examining all possibilities, including that contamination may have occurred at any point along the growing, harvesting, packaging, and distribution chain before reaching the Alaska correctional facility where it was served.

E. coli and Romaine in Alaska 1, Arizona 3, California 1, Connecticut 2, Idaho, 10, Illinois 1, Louisiana 1, Michigan 2, Missouri 1, Montana 6, New Jersey 7, New York 2, Ohio 2, Pennsylvania, 12, Virginia 1 and Washington 1

As of April 18, 2018, 53 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 16 states. Alaska 1, Arizona 3, California 1, Connecticut 2, Idaho, 10, Illinois 1, Louisiana 1, Michigan 2, Missouri 1, Montana 6, New Jersey 7, New York 2, Ohio 2, Pennsylvania, 12, Virginia 1 and Washington 1.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 13, 2018 to April 6, 2018. Ill people range in age from 10 to 85 years, with a median age of 34. Seventy percent of ill people are female. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized, including five people who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.

Illnesses that occurred after March 29, 2018, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of two to three weeks.

State and local health officials continue to interview ill people to ask about the foods they ate and other exposures before they became ill. Forty-one (95%) of 43 people interviewed reported eating romaine lettuce in the week before their illness started. Most people reported eating a salad at a restaurant, and romaine lettuce was the only common ingredient identified among the salads eaten. The restaurants reported using bagged, chopped romaine lettuce to make salads. At this time, ill people are not reporting whole heads or hearts of romaine. Information collected to date indicates that chopped romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region could be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and could make people sick.

Chipotle Poisons 37 Customers with E. coli

The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli O26 illnesses that may be related to Chipotle restaurants in Washington and Oregon has grown from 19 reported Washington cases to 25 as of today. The Washington State Department of Health continues working closely with local, state, and federal partners on a disease investigation to learn the extent of the outbreak and possible sources of E. coli O26 bacteria.

In Washington, residents of Clark (11), Cowlitz (2), Island (2), King (6), and Skagit (4) counties have been reported as outbreak cases. Of the 25 cases, 23 reported having been at Chipotle restaurants before getting sick. Nine of the Washington residents were hospitalized. Cases range in age from five-to-60.  The Washington Department of Health said there are five Washington restaurants associated with this outbreak: Hazel Dell, 7715 NE 5thAvenue, Suite 109, in Vancouver; 1404 Broadway Avenue and 4229 University Way NE in Seattle; 512 Ramsey Way 101 in Kent; and 1753 S. Burlington Blvd. in Burlington.

The Oregon Health Authority is reporting a total of 12 cases of Shiga toxin E. coli O26 linked to eating at Chipotle restaurants in the Portland Metro area, up from three cases that were first reported October 31.

Among the cases, three were hospitalized. There have been no deaths. People in Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties, as well as Columbia, Benton and Deschutes counties have reported symptoms.

Marler Clark Retained in Maine Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreak

The 2015 Oxford County Fair that was held in mid-September will be remembered for the death of one child and the severe illness to another due to infections with E. coli O111. The common exposure to the two children was the same petting zoo.

The investigation is ongoing, but what has appeared thus far indicates a venue that followed few of the warnings and recommendations from decades of prior outbreaks that had sickened thousands. As more information comes out over the next week on what the Fair did and did not do to prevent these families’ tragedies, the fair should be judged from health official recommended since 2001.

“Reducing the Risk for Transmission of Enteric Pathogens at Petting Zoos, Open Farms, Animal Exhibits, and Other Venues Where the Public Has Contact With Farm Animals” – 2001 CDC Recommendations:

  • Information should be provided. Persons providing public access to farm animals should inform visitors about the risk for transmission of enteric pathogens from farm animals to humans, and strategies for prevention of such transmission. This should include public information and training of facility staff. Visitors should be made aware that certain farm animals pose greater risk for transmitting enteric infections to humans than others. Such animals include calves and other young ruminant animals, young poultry, and ill animals. When possible, information should be provided before the visit.
  • Venues should be designed to minimize risk. Farm animal contact is not appropriate at food service establishments and infant care settings, and special care should be taken with school-aged children. At venues where farm animal contact is desired, layout should provide a separate area where humans and animals interact and an area where animals are not allowed. Food and beverages should be prepared, served, and consumed only in animal-free areas. Animal petting should occur only in the interaction area to facilitate close supervision and coaching of visitors. Clear separation methods such as double barriers should be present to prevent contact with animals and their environment other than in the interaction area.
  • Hand washing facilities should be adequate. Hand washing stations should be available to both the animal-free area and the interaction area. Running water, soap, and disposable towels should be available so that visitors can wash their hands immediately after contact with the animals. Hand washing facilities should be accessible, sufficient for the maximum anticipated attendance, and configured for use by children and adults. Children aged <5 years should wash their hands with adult supervision. Staff training and posted signs should emphasize the need to wash hands after touching animals or their environment, before eating, and on leaving the interaction area. Communal basins do not constitute adequate hand washing facilities. Where running water is not available, hand sanitizers may be better than using nothing. However, CDC makes no recommendations about the use of hand sanitizers because of a lack of independently verified studies of efficacy in this setting.
  • Hand-mouth activities (e.g., eating and drinking, smoking, and carrying toys and pacifiers) should not be permitted in interaction areas.
  • Persons at high risk for serious infections should observe heightened precaution. Everyone should handle farm animals as if the animals are colonized with human enteric pathogens. However, children aged <5 years, the elderly, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons (e.g., those with HIV/AIDS) are at higher risk for serious infections. Such persons should weigh the risks for contact with farm animals. If allowed to have contact, children aged <5 years should be supervised closely by adults, with precautions strictly enforced.

“Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2013” – National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians Animal Contact Compendium Committee 2013:

Venue operators should take the following steps:

  • Become familiar with and implement the recommendations in this compendium.
  • Consult with veterinarians, state and local agencies, and cooperative extension personnel on implementation of the recommendations.
  • Become knowledgeable about the risks for disease and injury associated with animals and be able to explain risk-reduction measures to staff members and visitors.
  • Be aware that direct contact with some animals is inappropriate in public settings, and this should be evaluated separately for different audiences.
  • Develop or obtain training and educational materials and train staff members.
  • Ensure that visitors receive educational messages before they enter the exhibit, including information that animals can cause injuries or carry organ- isms that can cause serious illness.
  • Provide information in a simple and easy-to-under- stand format that is age and language appropriate.
  • Provide information in multiple formats (e.g., signs, stickers, handouts, and verbal information) and languages.
  • Provide information to persons arranging school field trips or classroom exhibits so that they can educate participants and parents before the visit.

Venue staff members should take the following steps:

  • Become knowledgeable about the risks for dis- ease and injury associated with animals and be able to explain risk-reduction recommendations to visitors.
  • Ensure that visitors receive educational messages regarding risks and prevention measures.
  • Encourage compliance by the public with risk- reduction recommendations, especially compliance with hand-washing procedures as visitors exit animal areas.

Recommendations for nonanimal areas are as follows:

  • Do not permit animals, except for service animals, in nonanimal areas.
  • Store, prepare, serve, or consume food and beverages only in nonanimal areas.
  • Provide hand-washing facilities and display hand- washing signs where food or beverages are served.
  • Entrance transition areas should be designed to facilitate education.
  • Post signs or otherwise notify visitors that they are entering an animal area and that there are risks associated with animal contact.
  • Instruct visitors not to eat, drink, smoke, and place their hands in their mouth, or use bottles or pacifiers while in the animal area.
  • Establish storage or holding areas for strollers and related items (e.g., wagons and diaper bags).
  • Control visitor traffic to prevent overcrowding.
  • Exit transition areas should be designed to facilitate hand washing.
  • Post signs or otherwise instruct visitors to wash their hands when leaving the animal area.
  • Provide accessible hand-washing stations for all visitors, including children and persons with disabilities. Position venue staff members near exits to encourage compliance with proper hand washing.

Recommendations for animal areas are as follows:

  • Do not allow consumption of food and beverages in these areas.
  • Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items to enter the area.
  • Prohibit smoking and other tobacco product use.
  • Supervise children closely to discourage hand-to- mouth activities (e.g., nail biting and thumb sucking), contact with manure, and contact with soiled bedding. Children should not be allowed to sit or play on the ground in animal areas. If hands become soiled, supervise hand washing immediately.
  • Ensure that regular animal feed and water are not accessible to the public.
  • Allow the public to feed animals only if contact with animals is controlled (e.g., with barriers).
  • Do not provide animal feed in containers that can be eaten by humans (e.g., ice cream cones) to decrease the risk of children eating food that has come into contact with animals.
  • Promptly remove manure and soiled animal bedding from these areas.
  • Assign trained staff members to encourage appropriate human-animal interactions, identify and reduce potential risks for patrons, and process reports of injuries and exposures.
  • Store animal waste and specific tools for waste removal (e.g., shovels and pitchforks) in designated areas that are restricted from public access.
  • Avoid transporting manure and soiled bedding through nonanimal areas or transition areas. If this is unavoidable, take precautions to prevent spillage.
  • Where feasible, disinfect the area (e.g., flooring and railings) at least once daily.
  • Provide adequate ventilation both for animals and humans.
  • Minimize the use of animal areas for public activities (e.g., weddings and dances).
  • If areas previously used for animals must be used for public events, they should be cleaned and disinfected, particularly if food and beverages are served.

A view from the Courtroom:

Under premises liability law, the entity or entities responsible for managing an animal exhibition have a duty of care to those it invites onto the premises. This duty includes the responsibility to adequately reduce risks the entity is or should be aware of. The duty also carries a responsibility to warn fairgoers of risks present at the exhibition.

The principles of negligence also revolve around the risks to fairgoers that animal exhibitors know of or reasonably should know of. To successfully bring a negligence claim, a sickened person would need to show that the actions of an animal exhibitor fell below a reasonable standard of care in the operation of the exhibit. Failing to implement the well-established recommendations of the CDC and NASPHV constitutes falling below that standard of care.

Both bases for liability on the part of animal exhibitors-premises liability and negligence-carry with them a burden of education on the part of the exhibitor. Because the law holds people to a standard of what they reasonably should know, ignorance of the risks involved is not an effective defense. The law thus provides no impetus to stray from the course of action that is best for both customers and exhibitors in the first place-recognizing the risk and taking steps to reduce it.

Wolverine Packing E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – Multi-state (2014)

In late April 2014, public health and agriculture officials at the federal, state, and local levels initiated an outbreak investigation after receiving reports of reports of persons who had lab-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections.[1] Ultimately, a total of twelve persons from four states were identified as having been infected with the outbreak strain, which was identified by the PulseNet Pattern Identification Number EXHX01.0096/EXHA26.015. The number of infected persons in each state were as follows: Massachusetts (1 case-patient), Michigan (5 case-patients), Missouri (1 case-patient), and Ohio (5 case-patients).  The dates of illness-onset ranged from April 22 to May 2, 2014. The age of persons infected ranged 16 years to 46 years, with the median being 25 years. Seven patients (58%) were known to have been hospitalized, although no one died. The outbreak investigation was assigned CDC Cluster ID 1405MLEXH-1.

In interviewing the case-patients, public health officials found that eleven of the twelve (92%) reported eating ground beef prepared as a hamburger at a restaurant before becoming ill.  Officials conducted multiple traceback investigations of the ground beef used at restaurants where case-patients had reported dining. These investigations identified ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company as the source of the ground beef and thus the outbreak.

On May 19, Wolverine Packing Company recalled approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef that was potentially contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.[2]  This was a Class I Recall, which means that FSIS deemed the risk to the public health “High.” The ground beef had been shipped to distributors for retail and restaurant-use nationwide. The recalled ground beef bore the establishment number “EST. 2574B” inside the USDA mark of inspection and had a production date code in the format “Packing Nos: MM DD14” between “03 31 14” and “04 18 14.”

Marler Clark has filed one lawsuit to date.

E. coli:  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 Clark have 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 Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.


[1]           See CDC Final Outbreak Report, http://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2014/O157H7-05-14/index.html

[2]           See FSIS New Release, “Michigan Firm Recalls Ground Beef Products Due to Possible E. coli O157:H7,” http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/recall-case-archive/archive/2014/recall-030-2014 .

Trader Joe’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – California (2013)

Marler Clark represents a dozen of the ill – including two that developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  Several lawsuits have been filed to date.

In October and November 2013, local, state and federal public health officials investigated an outbreak of E. coli O157 experienced by patients residing in four states, Arizona, California, Texas, and Washington.  Epidemiologic and traceback investigations identified two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations as the source of the outbreak.  On December 11, 2013, the outbreak was declared to be over.  At that time a total of 33 persons with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157 had been identified.  This strain, assigned PulseNet pattern identification numbers EXHX01.0589/EXHA26.3182, had not been seen before.  Thirty two percent (32%) of ill persons were hospitalized.  Two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.  No deaths were reported.

Public health investigators interviewed ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before illness.  Nineteen (86%) of 22 ill persons interviewed reported shopping at different Trader Joe’s grocery store locations.  Twelve (80%) of 15 ill persons reported consuming ready-to-eat salad purchased from Trader Joe’s stores.  The two implicated salads, the Field Fresh Chopped salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, were consumed by 12 (80%) of 15 ill persons interviewed.

On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products.  Approximately 181,620 pounds of ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products with fully cooked chicken and ham were recalled to due possible contamination with E. coli O157.  The products were produced between September 23, 2013 and November 6, 2013, and shipped to distribution centers intended for retail sale in Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.  These were products regulated by USDA FSIS.[1]  In a related recall announcement on November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering recalled additional ready-to-eat salads and wraps regulated by the FDA.  These products had “Best By” dates of September 23, 2013 through November 14, 2013.

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