Public Health is investigating a new cluster of seven children infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (also known as STEC) in King County. All cases are currently under 14 years of age, and three are under five years of age. Cases have been reported between April 22–May 1, 2021.
Our investigation is ongoing, and we have not identified any foods, restaurants, or other sources in common among all cases. It is not yet known whether these cases share the same source or not. Updates will be posted when more information is available.
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 one child who developed a type of kidney complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and is recovering and a second child who is suspected to have HUS.
Public Health actions
Public Health is conducting interviews with cases and their parents/guardians to help identify any common exposures. We are also working with the Washington State Department of Health to complete further testing and to help identify possible related cases in other counties.
Public Health message
If you or your child develop painful or bloody diarrhea, diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days or is accompanied by a high fever or decreased urine, contact your healthcare provider to see if testing for STEC is indicated.
STEC and other foodborne infections occur throughout the year but may increase in frequency during late spring and summer months.
Anyone ill with suspected or known STEC should not work in or attend childcare or preschool, or work in food handling or healthcare until cleared by Public Health.
Six of the cases have preliminary testing indicating infections with E. coli O157 via PCR, and the seventh case has a positive EIA test for STEC. Further testing to confirm the strain and do genetic fingerprinting (whole genome sequencing or WGS) is underway at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory. These WGS results will help determine whether these cases were infected with the same strain of STEC.
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. coliand 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. coliand 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.