E. coli, Salmonella, and botulism were all featured in the news today:
In Hutchinson, Kansas, the Hutchinson News reported that a five-year-old girl from Sterling, Kansas, has been put on dialysis. She became ill with an E. coli infection and hemolytic uremic syndrome. She is in critical condition after 18 days in the hospital. As reported by the Hutchinson News:
Aubrey Anderson, 5, continued to undergo daily dialysis treatments lasting three to five hours each at Wesley Medical Center, said her father, Bill Anderson, who is principal of Sterling High School.
"Aubrey’s hemoglobin was down a little today, which is not good," Anderson said in an e-mail. "Her platelets, however, have reached a ‘normal’ level and the doctor feels that they will not decrease again, and that is encouraging. Her toxicity level is down from yesterday, but they would like to see it come down farther."
In Omaha, Nebraska, the Omaha World Herald reported that ConAgra has resumed the production of Banquet and private label pot pies – one of two ConAgra products identified earlier this year as the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak. According to the World Herald:
ConAgra Foods Inc. said Wednesday that it had enhanced its food safety procedures and resumed making frozen Banquet and private-label pot pies, which the company recalled last month after they were linked to salmonella illnesses.
The company said it would ship the pot pies to stores beginning in December, and they should be back on store shelves as soon as January.
And in Roanoke, Virginia, a relative of a doctor who passed away this week – allegedly of botulism poisoning – spoke with the Roanoke Times. While testing has not been completed, the relative stated that health authorities are investigating the possibility that the doctor’s death was caused by botulism.
Kwang Kim, the doctor’s younger brother, said the family is still awaiting laboratory results to confirm the death was caused by botulism. They expect those results Thursday, he said.
Kwang Kim said the state health department approached the family last week about the doctor’s illness. Dr. Kim’s husband, George Makarie, is also ill and was still hospitalized Wednesday morning, Kwang Kim said. He said he doesn’t know if Makarie’s illness is also related to botulism.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 76 million foodborne illness cases occur in the United States every year. This amounts to one in four Americans becoming ill after eating foods contaminated with such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter, Shigella, Norovirus, and Listeria.
On an annual basis, approximately 325,000 people are hospitalized with a diagnosis of food poisoning, and 5,000 die. The annual dollar costs of foodborne illnesses—in terms of medical expenses and lost wages and productivity—range from $6.5 to $34.9 billion.