The great state of Texas is currently in the midst of an unfolding E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to guacamole served on sandwiches at Jason’s Deli, in the city of Killeen. So far 11 people have been confirmed ill as part of the outbreak. But this is not the first time that Texas has found itself in the spotlight during an unfortunate spate of E. coli O157:H7-related illnesses. Some of the more notable recent E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks include:
- Fort Worth Daycare E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak. In June of 2002, Fort Worth, Texas public health officials became aware of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, including five culture-positive cases and at least one case of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), among Tarrant County residents. During its investigation into the outbreak, the Tarrant County Public Health Department (TCPHD) learned that all of the victims were associated with the CCC Alternative Learning Program Daycare in Fort Worth, Texas; 12 children who attended the daycare, one daycare staff member, and one parent of a daycare attendee had all fallen ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections. The TCPDH inspection of the daycare revealed several public health safety issues, including that that staff, parents and children reported frequently eating portable lunches on the daycare grounds by a pond. The pond collected run-off from a pasture that held grazing cattle, and TCPDH reported that several samples of pond water confirmed a heavy concentration of E. coli O157:H7. The lawyers at Marler Clark represented the family of a little girl who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 and HUS.
- Nestle E. coli O157:H7 Cookie Dough Outbreak. Eighty ill persons infected with a single strain of E. coli O157:H7 were identified in at least 31 states. At least 70 of these illnesses were confirmed by an advanced DNA test as being the same strain of E. coli O157: H7. An epidemiological study indicated a strong association between eating raw, prepackaged, cookie dough and infection; Nestle Toll House brand cookie dough was mentioned by most ill persons who had reported eating cookie dough. On June 29, 2009, the Food and Drug Administration announced that they had found E. coli O157:H7 in a package of cookie dough that had been collected from a Nestle plant on June 25. The strain identified from the package was different from the outbreak strain. E. coli O157:H7 infection had not been previously associated with eating raw cookie dough. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 associated with this outbreak had been associated with earlier outbreaks going back to February, 2005. According to the CDC, the 76 people who became ill with E. coli after eating Nestle refrigerated cookie dough and brownie products range in age from 2 to 65 years. Thirty-five E. coli outbreak victims were hospitalized, and 11 developed HUS. Marler Clark has represented 17 people in the Nestle cookie dough E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, including multiple individuals who developed severe HUS illnesses.
- Nebraska Beef Ltd/Kroger Company Ground Beef E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak. A multistate epidemiologic investigation into an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 began in Ohio. The data indicated a significant association between illness and eating ground beef purchased at one of several Kroger Company stores in Michigan and Ohio. A traceback investigation of the ground beef from Kroger Company revealed that the beef originated from Nebraska Beef, Ltd., a beef processor. A recall for Kroger Company ground beef was issued for the ground beef sold in Michigan and Ohio. On July 3, Kroger Company expanded the recall to include ground beef sold at all of its stores. On June 30, a recall of 531,707 pounds of ground beef from Nebraska Beef Ltd. was announced. On July 3, Nebraska Beef Ltd expanded the June 30 recall to include all beef manufacturing trimmings and other products intended for use in raw ground beef produced between May 16 and June 26, totaling approximately 5.3 million pounds. Nebraska Beef would later be implicated, in July, in another outbreak of E.coli O157:H7. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 in that outbreak was a different PFGE pattern than the strain identified in this outbreak.