From late-August through early-November 2011, contaminated raw milk produced by Cozy Valley caused at least three children to become infected by a genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7. The three children, including a young girl identified as TC in the E. coli lawsuit filed by Marler Clark, were residents of Pierce and Thurston Counties, Washington.
Based on the discovery of three genetically indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 infections amongst customers of Cozy Valley, the Washington State Department of Agriculture collected approximately 42 samples from the premises at Cozy Valley, including from its cows and multiple locations in the milking and production areas. At least 3 samples, collected from a mop and from the floor in the milking parlor, tested positive for the same genetically indistinguishable strain of E. coli O157:H7 that infected the three children, including TC.
On or about November 23, 2011, Cozy Valley recalled its raw milk products with a “sell-by” date of December 6, 2011, or earlier. Cozy Valley’s raw whole and skim milk and cream had been distributed through at least seven retail outlets in Pierce, Thurston and King counties, including Marlene’s Markets in Tacoma and Federal Way, two Olympia Food Co-Op locations, Olympia Local Foods in Tumwater, Mt. Community Co-op in Eatonville, and at Yelm Cooperative. The recalled products were also sold at the Cozy Valley farm store.
TC’s HUS illness:
On multiple occasions during the month before the onset of symptoms related to TC’s E. coli O157:H7 infection, her parents purchased raw milk at Yelm and Olympia Cooperatives that had been produced by Cozy Valley. TC consumed the Cozy Valley raw milk repeatedly during this time.
Onset of symptoms caused by TC’s E. coli O157:H7 infection occurred on or about the early morning hours of November 4, 2011. Symptoms began with abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, and a general feeling of unwellness.
TC’s symptoms continued to worsen, including the onset of bloody diarrhea, causing her parents to take TC to her pediatrician the afternoon of November 4. That day, TC produced a stool sample that ultimately tested positive for the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 that sickened at least 2 other children in the Cozy Valley E. coli O157:H7 outbreak, described above. The strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was isolated from TC’s stool sample also was the same as the 3 positive samples taken by the Washington Department of Agriculture during its investigation at Cozy Valley’s premises.
On or about November 6, 2011, TC’s parents received a call from the pediatrician who indicated that TC had tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. The pediatrician advised TC’s parents to take her to the emergency department at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma. At the Mary Bridge emergency department, TC received intravenous fluids for hydration, and was ultimately discharged home in the early morning hours of November 7.
The next day, TC’s symptoms seemed to improve. On Wednesday, November 9, however, TC developed dark urine, which was a symptom that TC’s parents had been advised to watch for. TC’s parents rushed her to Providence St. Peters Hospital in Olympia, Washington, where blood samples were secured for testing. After the blood was drawn, TC and her parents returned to her pediatrician’s office, where they learned that the blood tests showed that TC had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome.
TC was transferred to Seattle Children’s Hospital the same day. At the emergency room at Children’s, TC received intravenous fluids for hydration and gave more blood for testing. She was ultimately admitted for further care and treatment.
TC remained hospitalized at Children’s for approximately 1 week. During her hospitalization, she became dangerously anemic, and ultimately required a blood transfusion. After discharge from Children’s Hospital, TC continued to be anemic, requiring regular monitoring and blood tests by her pediatrician and pediatric nephrologist. She continues in their care, and the most recent blood test results show that she continues to be anemic.
In addition to the persisting anemia, as a result of her E. coli O157:H7 infection and HUS illness, TC now fears having to use the bathroom. In fact, she refuses to use the bathroom without the assistance and accompaniment of her parents. Also as a result of her E. coli O157:H7 infection and HUS illness, TC is at increased risk of developing serious kidney and cardiovascular problems at some point in her lifetime.