The Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is working with local health jurisdictions to respond to a multi-county outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that may be linked to fresh produce.
The outbreak currently includes six confirmed cases across Benton County (1), King County (3), Snohomish County (1) and Walla Walla County (1). DOH is only reporting confirmed cases infected with bacteria that have been genetically linked, but local health officials may report higher numbers for their counties that include cases still under investigation.
There is one case in the outbreak between ages 0-9, two cases age 10-19, one case age 20-29, one age 30-39, and one case age 70-79. Three cases have been hospitalized and one case developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a serious complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection that can damage the kidneys and other organs. The earliest case in the outbreak started having symptoms March 9, and the most recent case had symptoms starting April 21.
The Snohomish Health District announced Tuesday evening that 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.
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.
Seattle King County Public Health is investigating a 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.
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.
DOH is coordinating with local health jurisdictions to identify cases related to the outbreak using genetic testing of the bacteria and investigating possible causes. In this type of investigation, public health staff interview cases, look for commonalities and work with local and federal partners to trace back foods that may have caused the illness. These investigations sometimes lead to a definitive source of contamination or exposure, but it is not always possible to determine the cause. DOH will provide more information on the outbreak as it becomes available.
E. coli are bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains are harmless, some can cause illness by making Shiga toxin. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, stomach cramps and blood in the stool. There is usually no fever.
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 $800 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.