The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a warning this week about a dangerous E. coli outbreak impacting multiple states. The CDC report stated that the recent spike in illness is tied to soy nut butter products that have not been recalled. So far, there have been a total of 29 reported illnesses, including 24 that involved children. Of those who are sick, 12 required hospitalization and nine developed a serious form of kidney failure that is potentially fatal.
“We are urging parents and caregivers to check for recalled SoyNut Butter products and throw them away. This product has a long shelf life and may still be in homes and classrooms,” the CDC said. The recalled products include a variety of items including some granola bars and yogurt bars. The CDC said all of these products should be thrown away regardless of any date on the container. All of the impacted companies have put out recall notices this month as the outbreak continued to spread.
Around half all of the 29 individuals who have gotten sick reportedly consumed SoyNut Butter at home within a week before they showed symptoms of illness. Several others consumed it at a daycare or school. Symptoms of E. coli typically will begin between two days to a week after eating contaminated food. The illness usually begins with stomach cramps and can escalate to severe diarrhea and vomiting. While most people will make a full recovery within a week, a small percentage of people can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome as a complication.
So far, the E. coli outbreak has impacted individuals in 12 states including Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington. The CDC said they expect more cases to be reported because it generally takes between two to three weeks before they receive reports of a new illness.
So far, there have been four separate lawsuits filed against the companies responsible for this outbreak. William Marler is the attorney representing 15 of the individuals who have gotten sick. The lawsuits name I.M. Healthy and Dixie Dew as defendents.
“It’s always scary to hear about an E. coli outbreak or any foodborne illness that is impacting so many places,” said Christopher Ligori, a Tampa personal injury attorney. “Anytime a person gets sick because a company sold a defective product, there are grounds for a lawsuit.”
According to the CDC, there are actually many different strains of E. coli and some are harmless. However, some can contain toxins that cause illness and infections that range from mild stomach cramps to life threatening illnesses. With an average of 265,000 foodborne illnesses reported each year in the United States, E. coli is responsible for more than one-third of those infections. The bacteria is commonly transmitted through contaminated food or water, but it can also be spread by contact. The CDC advises that people always make sure to cook meat thoroughly and avoid any unpasteurized dairy to avoid getting sick from E. coli.