CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) collected and analyzed different types of data but were unable to identify the food source of this multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections.

As of March 11, 2021, this outbreak is over.

As of March 10, 2021, a total of 22 people infected with the outbreak strain were reported from 7 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 18, 2020, to January 12, 2021.

Sick people ranged in age from 10 to 95 years, with a median age of 28, and 68% were female. Of 20 people with information available, 11 were hospitalized. Of 18 people with information, 3 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One death was reported from Washington.

State and local public health officials interviewed people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. CDC analyzed the interview data and did not identify a specific food item as a potential source of this outbreak. People reported eating a variety of food items, including leafy greens, broccoli, cucumbers, and strawberries. However, none of the food items were reported significantly more by sick people in this outbreak when compared to healthy people in the FoodNet population survey.

Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that were part of this outbreak. CDC PulseNet manages a national database of DNA fingerprints of bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses. DNA fingerprinting is performed on bacteria using a method called whole genome sequencing (WGS).

WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples were closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak likely got sick from eating the same food.

WGS also showed that this outbreak strain was previously linked to various sources, including romaine lettuce and recreational water.

FDA conducted traceback investigations on several produce items but did not identify a common source or potential point of contamination.

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 $750 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.