Tuesday morning, we will be filing lawsuits on behalf of the families of two children sickened in the ongoing, likely developing, outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 linked to ground beef.  The lawsuits will be filed in Plymouth County Superior Court for the Commonwealth of Massachussetts against Brockton, Mass.-based Crocetti-Oakdale Packing, Inc., doing business as South Shore

Earlier today, the CDC posted the following update on the E. coli O157:H7 ground beef outbreak and recall on its website:

Several state health departments, CDC, and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) are investigating a multi-state outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections. On October 31, 2009, FSIS issued

FSIS today released the identities of retail stores that may have received E. coli O157:H7-contaminated ground beef involved in the current recall by Fairbank Farm.  All Shaw’s stores in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachussets, and Vermont may have received contaminated meat; and all Price Chopper stores in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont may have received contaminated

 In 1999, several states reported clusters of Salmonella Newport, an antibiotic resistant strain of the bug, with an indistinguishable PFGE pattern and the same anti-microbial resistance pattern.  The states reported to PulseNet, the national database for foodborne disease surveillance, which prompted an investigation into the cause of the outbreak.

In the investigation, health officials found that

This post is about a brutal illness caused by Salmonella.  It happened to one of our clients several years ago.  Don’t stop reading just because you think you’ve seen, or heard about, every varient of a Salmonella illness. I assure you that you’ve never seen one quite like this before.

At the request of our former client, I have changed the names and locations in this narrative:

Our client, Ron, was infected with Salmonella during a sporting banquet in Indiana. His illness began on July 27, 2004. At first, he suffered from predominantly gastrointestinal symptoms that were, in light of what was to come, relatively mild.

By August 1, Ron was in the emergency room at a nearby hospital The attending physician there noted repetitive diarrhea and, though the vomiting had subsided, that Ron continued to feel “somewhat nauseous and gaggy.” Ron was re-hydrated with a liter of normal saline, and twenty-five milligrams of Phenergan, an anti-nausea medication, were introduced intravenously. He was discharged several hours later with a prescription for Ciprofloxacin, an antibiotic.

Ron’s course over the next two months is one that defies clever adjectival description: He felt generally ill pretty much all of the time. He did manage to return to work after a couple of day’s absence, but he struggled to be as productive as usual, was frequently irritable, and seemed constantly besieged by abdominal discomfort. It was during this time that Ron learned that his stool sample had cultured positive for Salmonella, group D.

The same state of ill health persisted throughout August and September. “Then,” as Ron recalls, “came the first weekend in October,” and “any thoughts I had that the first bout in July was the sickest I’d ever been faded quickly.” Continue Reading An Unforgettable Salmonella Illness

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced that King Soopers, Inc. of Denver, Colorado, was recalling 466,236 pounds of ground beef products due to potential Salmonella Typhimurim DT104 contamination yesterday.  The recall was initiated after public health officials from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the

Valley Meats LLC recently recalled nearly 96,000 pounds of ground beef due to potential contamination by E. coli O157:H7.  Now, SP Provisions of Portland, Oregon has recalled almost 40,000 pounds of ground beef due to positive sampling of its ground beef during production.   Hamburger E. coli season appears to be getting underway.

John McDonald was

The recent recall of nearly 96,000 pounds of ground beef by Valley Meats LLC got me thinking about hamburgers and E. coli O157:H7.  Anytime I hear those words together (which, as an attorney at Marler Clark, is quite often), I think of John McDonald.  John was a 5-year-old boy who we represented in a ground beef outbreak that occurred in 2007.  Unfortunately, John’s illness was about as bad as an illness can get without causing a death.  (it is unbelievable how many times I find myself saying that about our clients) 

John was hospitalized at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital from October 4 through 12, then was transferred to the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he remained until October 29.  During his hospitalization, John’s kidneys failed requiring extensive dialysis to cleanse his blood, and he became badly anemic requiring many blood transfusions.

But these conditions, though in and of themselves potentially lethal, were just the beginning.  What truly separates John’s illness from most of the hemolytic uremic syndrome illnesses that we see was the extent of injury to his gastrointestinal tract. 

Jim McDonald, John’s father, was present at the moment it became apparent just how severe John’s illness was.  It occurred in the early morning hours of Thursday, October 11, 2007.  He recalls: 

As usual, I got up to help as much as possible when the nurses came in and woke us up. When we opened his diaper, I got excited since it looked like he had had dark brown diarrhea, which told me that his digestive system was finally starting to kick in again. Realizing how liquidy the diaper was, we turned on an extra light to help us while changing him.

I will never forget what I saw. To my dismay, the diaper was not full of a bowel movement like I had desperately hoped. It was full of blood. An entire bowel movement of blood. Maybe an entire cup of blood. I got light-headed and almost passed out. I immediately sat down and grasped my head, apologizing to the nurses and telling them that I could no longer help them treat my son. This was the first of five grossly bloody stools that day.

Continue Reading Ground Beef, Hamburgers, and E. coli: John McDonald’s illness