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Outbreak News

2 Local Children Infected With E. Coli


October 10, 2007

Raleigh — North Carolina public health officials are asking residents to make sure they don’t have any contaminated beef after two children were infected with E. coli.

The State Laboratory of Public Health has confirmed that the children were infected with E. coli O15:H7 bacterium, which had the same DNA fingerprint as that found in E. coli infections that have been linked to ground beef patties manufactured by Cargill and sold through Sam's Club.

The two children, a 10-year-old from Durham County and a 14-year-old from Orange County, attended a cookout on Sept. 15.

Food served at the cookout included grilled hamburgers. The children experienced bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps beginning on Sept. 18, officials said.

Neither child developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a serious complication that can result from E. coli 0157:H7 infection. Both children have recovered. No other cases of E .coli infection associated with the picnic have been diagnosed.

“If you have frozen ground beef patties, check to see if they are part of the recall; if they are, then throw them away or return them to the store,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jeff Engel. “Anytime you cook hamburger, always make sure to cook it until it is no longer pink and the juice runs clear.”

Officials said it is likely that the infections were caused by the now-recalled product, because stool samples from the infected children had the same DNA fingerprint as those found in contaminated beef from other cases associated with the recall.

Although no ground beef from the cookout was available for testing, people who bought the ground beef for the Orange County cookout said that they had purchased the ground beef from the Durham Sam’s Club on Sept. 14.

The Orange County Health Department investigated the incident. Public health officials noted that the onset of E. coli infection occurs within two to 10 days after infection, with most cases showing up within three to five days. No new cases are expected as a result of the ground beef consumed at this cookout.

In addition to checking to see whether consumers have the contaminated product, public health officials said consumers should take precautions to avoid contaminating other foods with any E. coli bacteria that may be present in the meat by:

Using soap or dishwashing liquid to wash hands, utensils, and cutting boards after they have been in contact with raw meat before they touch other food.

Putting cooked meat on a clean platter, rather than on the one that was used to hold raw meat.

On Oct. 6, Cargill recalled 844,812 pounds of frozen ground beef patties after an investigation by Minnesota authorities. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) found that four cases of illness were caused by E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint.

All of those infected had eaten ground beef patties purchased at Sam’s Club stores in the Twin Cities metro area. The brand name of the implicated frozen ground beef patties was “American Chef’s Selection Angus Beef Patties.”

Sam’s Club has pulled American Chef’s Selection Angus Frozen Ground Beef Patties from all of their stores.

The products subject to the recall were produced on Aug. 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17, 2007, and were distributed nationwide. Each package bears the establishment number “Est. 924A” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

More on this outbreak: Cargill E. coli Outbreak (2007)

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