Public health officials are investigating a new outbreak of E. Coli O157:H7 infections that have been linked to two different brands of packaged salads. As of this afternoon no recalls had been initiated.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the outbreak today, saying “different types of data” are being used to investigate the outbreak involving Simple Truth Organic brand, which is sold by Kroger, and Nature’s Basket brand Organic Power Greens.
“Epidemiologic data show that Simple Truth Organic brand and Nature’s Basket brand Organic Power Greens may be contaminated with E. coli and may be making people sick,” according to the CDC announcement.
As of the afternoon of Dec. 30 the Food and Drug Administration had not posted any company recall notices for either brand of packaged salads.
As of Dec. 29, there were 13 people across six states infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7, the CDC reports. Illnesses started on dates ranging from Nov. 27, 2021, to Dec 9, 2021.
Sick people range in age from 4 to 79 years, with a median age of 54. Females make up 92 percent of the patient count. Of 12 people with information available, four have been hospitalized and one person developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). No deaths have been reported.
“The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for E. coli. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak,” according to the CDC.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. Of 12 people interviewed, all reported eating packaged salads. Of 10 people who provided brand information, six ate or bought Simple Truth Organic Power Greens and one ate Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens. Both Organic Power Greens salads have the same mix of leafy greens: organic spinach, mizuna, kale, and chard. Several sick people reported using these salads in smoothies.
About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.
People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.
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