Eighteen people, mostly in Florida, have been confirmed with E. coli O26 infections, spurring Publix Super Markets Inc. to recall an undetermined amount of eight different ground beef products.

“Traceback information indicated that case-patients consumed ground chuck products purchased at various Publix Super Markets that was supplied by a yet-to-be determined source,” according to the recall notice posted by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The FSIS reported it was notified about the outbreak on Aug. 16.

Other than the FSIS recall notice, no other federal or state agencies appeared to have posted any information about the outbreak as of last night. The FSIS reported that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is assisting Florida officials with their outbreak investigation. 

Officials with FSIS and the Publix grocery chain are urging consumers to check their home freezers for unused portions of the ground beef products. Publix told outbreak investigators that all of the implicated products would have been purchased by customers from June 25 through July 31. The recalled products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

Although the producer was unknown as of yesterday afternoon, the recall notice says the ground beef products were shipped to Publix retail locations in several Florida counties, including Brevard, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Desoto, Flagler, Hernando, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie, Sumter and Volusia.  

Products subject to the Publix recall are:

  • Ground chuck
  • Ground chuck burgers
  • Several flavors of gourmet burger — Jalapeno & Cheddar, Pimento & Cheese, Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, and Swiss & Mushroom
  • Several flavors of seasoned ground chuck burgers — Badia, Mesquite, Montreal, and Steakhouse
  • Several flavors of meatballs — Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, Swiss & Mushroom, and Spanish
  • Two types of meatloaf — seasoned and grillers
  • Several flavors of sliders — Bacon & Cheddar, Bacon & Fried Onion, Ground Chuck, Blue Cheese, Jalapeno & Cheddar, and Swiss & Mushroom
  • Stuffed peppers

Other than the number of patients, no other information about the outbreak victims was included in the FSIS recall notice except the known dates of symptom onset, which range from July 5 through July 25.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to E. coli O26. Specific lab tests are necessary to diagnose E. coli infections. The infections can mimic other illnesses, making them difficult to identify.

It generally takes two to eight days after exposure to the bacteria for symptoms to develop. Most people develop some or all of the following,  diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. 

Vigorous rehydration and other supportive care is the usual treatment for E. coli infections. Antibiotic treatment is generally not recommended. Most people recover within a week, but rarely, some develop a more severe infection. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure most frequently associated with E. coli O157 infections, is uncommon with E. coli O26 infections, according to the FSIS recall notice. 

HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old, older adults and people with weakened immune systems. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

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