Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

Free Consultation with E. coli LawyerAn E. coli lawyer can help your child get compensation for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Read about our law firm’s recent $7.55 million win for a child with E. coli-HUS.

HUS and Kidney Failure

(Please note that at the end of this page we have included a list of some of the recent scientific literature on hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One area of particular interest, both medically and legally, is the future risks associated with HUS.)

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a severe complication of E. coli poisoning. It is characterized by damage and destruction of the red blood cells, which leads to a lower than normal number of red blood cells (a condition called anemia), blood clots, and damage to blood vessel walls.

E coli

This is a low-temperature electron micrograph of a cluster of E. coli. It is toxins created by this dangerous bacteria that cause hemolytic uremic syndrome and other serious complications. Contact our law firm for help.

Following intestinal damage from the E. coli infection, Shiga toxins created by the bacteria, generally E. coli O157:H7, gain access to the blood stream and find their way into the kidneys. There the toxins damage the thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of tiny blood vessels in the glomerulus .  Red blood cells are damaged and make tiny blood clots (thrombi) in the filtering system.  The result is kidney failure and a host of other severe medical problems.

It is impossible to describe just how horrendous HUS is. Little children can have renal failure, strokes, heart attacks and respiratory failure. Some do not survive. This can happen with one bite of tainted food, and companies that sell that food need to be held accountable.

Unlike most countries, the U.S. government generally does not press criminal charges against corporate CEOs and other executives for selling tainted products. This makes filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit even more important. This is often the only way to get any justice.

Our law firm is one of the very few in the U.S. that regularly represents clients, both children and adults, in these cases. Some of our clients have gone on to be food safety advocates, working to make legislative changes and educate the public about foodborne illness. Our E. coli-HUS lawyers regularly speak to various audiences about food safety. You can contact our E. coli lawyers using our free consultation form.

Free Consultation with E. coli LawyerWhy Does My Child Have Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?

Both adults and children can develop HUS from an E. coli infection, but children are most at risk. Most children who are diagnosed with acute HUS consumed food or water contaminated with E. coli H7:O157, a specific serotype of the bacteria that is particularly dangerous.  According to some studies, as many as 15 percent of children who are infected with E. coli develop this complication.

In many cases the child is one of many who were sickened in an outbreak of E. coli infections. Past outbreaks have been caused by beef (ground, frozen hamburger patties and mechanically tenderized steak), lettuce, spinach, sprouts, raw (unpasteurized) milk and cheese made from this, unpasteurized apple cider, strawberries, hazelnuts, frozen pizza, other frozen food products, and cookie dough. In some outbreaks, a restaurant is linked to the illnesses, but the food source is not found. When this happens, the restaurant is legally responsible for the harm done by the food it served.

Illness can also be caused by contaminated water and contact with animals (petting zoos and fairs). Our lawyers have represented people sickened by tainted drinking well water at a restaurant. We have also represented people throughout the United States sickened by cows, goats, deer and, in one outbreak in Minnesota, a llama.

Other types of E. coli can cause this, including non-O157 serotypes O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145. In rare cases, Shigella bacteria can cause it.

Can Our Family Sue for Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome and E. coli Food Poisoning?

Yes, your family can sue if the E. coli food poisoning can be linked to a food product and/or eating establishment (restaurant, deli, cafeteria). Children are most at risk for developing this complication, and they have legal rights. You can sue a corporate wrongdoer on behalf of your child and make sure your son or daughter has the finances needed for a lifetime of medical expenses caused by the contaminated food. Read: If my child developed HUS from E. coli O157:H7, should we sue?

E. coli Bacteria

Under a magnification of 6836x, this colorized scanning electron micrograph (SEM) depicts gram-negative Escherichia coli O157:H7.

Attorney Fred Pritzker has been helping people sickened by contaminated food for decades. His cases have involved both adults and children who developed HUS from food tainted with E. coli bacteria. He has spoken at Harvard Law School, Cornell University and other venues about food safety. He has also been quoted by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, CNN and many others. Contact Fred for a free consultation.

Testimonial of Client Who Has Kidney Damage

“My case was settled for several million dollars. It is comforting to know that when I am no longer able to work, I will still be able to provide for my family. Right now I am going to school and cannot work because school and work is just too much for my kidney disease. The doctors also say that I might have trouble having children because of the disease.”  Read the full testimonial.

What are the Complications?

Complications are severe and can include the following:

  • Hemolytic anemia and associated blood complications;
  • Abnormal kidney function;
  • Kidney failure (renal failure) that may require a kidney transplant (renal transplant) – illness accompanying kidney failure is called uremia (develops when urea and other waste products are retained in the blood);
  • Gall stones – probably caused by rapid hemolysis, breaking open of red blood cells and the release of hemoglobin;
  • Elevated pancreatic enzyme levels that could lead to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus and or pancreatitis;
  • Central Nervous System (CNS) disturbances such as irritablilty, behavior changes, disorientation, delerium, hallucinations, dizziness and tremors;
  • Seizures;
  • Coma;
  • Stroke;
  • Encephalopathy;
  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS);
  • Convulsions;
  • Heart problems, including heart attack (myocardial infarction), cardio myopathy, cardiogenic shock, congestive heart failure;
  • Cortical blindness, caused by damage to the visual area in the brain’s occipital cortex;
  • Thrombocytopenia (platelet deficiency in the blood); and
  • Wrongful Death.

Learn about the long-term consequences of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) arrow-link-13 

Kidney Damage

With careful and aggressive medical attention, the risk of fatality is less than four percent. Up to 30 percent of the children who survive the disease, however, will be left with permanent damage to their kidneys. Children who recover usually do so quickly, while afflicted adults may experience longer recovery times since kidney damage is usually more extensive in adult cases.

Recent studies show that HUS caused by E. coli infection is now the most common cause of renal failure for children in the U.S. It is recommended that people who recover undergo long-term follow-up and observation to monitor for the potential onset of chronic kidney disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), and chronic neurological damage.

Approximately 7,500 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. –similar to the rate of incidence for leukemia in the general population–but until all fifty states classify this as a reportable disease, an accurate rate of incidence will be impossible to determine.

Read about the symptoms.

Your child and your family have the right to sue corporate wrongdoers for compensation. You can call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or click here now to contact our lawyers and get your free consultation. If you hire our law firm, you will have no upfront costs, and we are not paid unless you win. Read the FAQ page.

We are a national law firm. Our lawyers help clients with personal injury and wrongful death claims involving E. coli and hemolytic uremic syndrome. We have over $50 million for clients who suffered kidney failure. You can click here now if you want a free consultation or call 1-888-377-8900.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with E. coli, you should contact our law firm using our free consultation form. It costs you nothing to talk to one of our lawyers, and we are one of three law firms in the U.S. that practices extensively in the area of food poisoning litigation. We know how to get answers and compensation for our clients.

E. coli-HUS with Acute Encephalopathy in a Pregnant Woman

A 26-year-old pregnant woman (31 weeks) contracted an E. coli O111 infection after eating at a restaurant in Japan (see number 6 below, Ito). After 4 days, she was admitted to the hospital with extremely bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal pain.

Upon admittance to the hospital, antibiotics were administered.

The baby was delivered by C-section at 32 weeks. Although small, the baby lived.

The mother, however, went into respiratory arrest and had a heart attack (cardiac arrest). Her resulting Glasgow Coma Scale score was 11. She was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome and put on hemodiafiltration and plasma exchange therapy.

The damage to her brain was significant. She had diffuse brain cortex damage and acute encephalopathy. When she emerged out of a coma on the 14th day after the C-section, she had to have rehabilitation to recover motor and cognitive functions.

Scientific Literature

Below are a few of the many articles on HUS in the scientific literature. Our lawyers do a lot of work in this area and keep up with the literature. You can contact one of our lead lawyers to discuss the issues raised in the articles below or your need for legal representation. Call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free) or submit our free consultation form to contact Fred Pritzker, Brendan Flaherty, Ryan Osterholm or Eric Hageman. Because of the severity of this illness, our lawyers, upon invitation by the family, often visit clients in the hospital.

  1. A study looked at 259 children with E. coli O157:H7 infections, 36 of whom developed HUS. The researchers concluded: “Antibiotic use during E. coli O157:H7 infections is associated with a higher rate of subsequent HUS and should be avoided.” Wong, Craig S., et al. “Risk factors for the hemolytic uremic syndrome in children infected with Escherichia coli O157: H7: a multivariable analysis.” Clinical Infectious Diseases 55.1 (2012): 33-41 9.
  2. Another study concluded that the use of antibiotics may cause HUS: “Individuals infected with O157 infection presenting with a more severe illness were at an increased risk of developing HUS. The use of bactericidal antibiotics, particularly β-lactams, to treat O157 infection was associated with the subsequent development of HUS.” Smith, Kirk E., et al. “Antibiotic treatment of Escherichia coli O157 infection and the risk of hemolytic uremic syndrome, Minnesota.The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 31.1 (2012): 37-41.
  3. A higher risk of heart, kidney (renal) and pancreatic problems was found for patients with HUS who had experienced kidney failure and needed dialysis treatment: “Dialysis patients with HUS were at significantly higher risk than matched control patients for hospitalizations due to cardiovascular, hematologic, and pancreatic disease, which were associated with ongoing TMA [thrombotic microangiopathy].” Brunelli, Steven M., et al. “Consequences of hemolytic uremic syndrome among hemodialysis patients.” Journal of Nephrology 28.3 (2015): 361-367.
  4. This article provides a detailed discussion of the risks of HUS. The title includes the term “Shiga toxin,” which refers to Shiga toxins produced by Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Shigella. Most cases of Shiga toxin HUS are caused by E. coli O157, which is sometimes referred to as STEC. This study found that the most damage occurs in the kidneys: “The kidneys bear the brunt of the long-term damage: proteinuria [high quantities of protein in the urine] (15-30 % of cases); hypertension [high blood presssure] (5-15 %); chronic kidney disease (CKD; 9-18%); and end-stage kidney disease (ESKD; 3 %).” Other areas at risk were also discussed: “A smaller number have . . . colonic strictures [narrowing of section of colon], cholelithiasis [gallstones], diabetes mellitus or brain injury.” The length of time the kidneys are not producing urine and the length of dialysis were found to be “the most important risk factors for a poor acute and long-term renal outcome.”The study also looked at mortality rate: “The overall acute mortality rate of about 30% declined dramatically with the introduction of early dialysis for severely affected oligo-anuric patients. The acute mortality rate has improved to between 1 and 4 %, with most deaths occurring during the acute phase. Brain involvement is the most common cause of death, and less frequent causes are congestive heart failure, pulmonary hemorrhage, hyperkalemia/arrhythmia, and bowl perforation/hemorrhagic colitis. Older age at presentation in adults is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.” Spinale, Joann M., et al. “Long-term outcomes of Shiga toxin hemolytic uremic syndrome.” Pediatric Nephrology 28.11 (2013): 2097-2105.
  5. This article focuses on central nervous system (CNS) damage, often manifested by seizures and coma. CNS damage, primarily damage to the brain, is the “primary cause of death” in HUS patients. The center of concern in this article is hydration and its connection to CNS damage: “In patients with STEC-HUS, hemoconcentration [low plasma volume] and hypovolemia [low blood plasma] may be responsible for more severe ischemic organ damage (both short and long term) at disease onset, and these signs should be regarded as risk factors for CNS damage and more severe TMA [thrombotic microangiopathy, or blood clots in the small blood vessels]. Therefore, we recommend that hydration status should be actively monitored in HUS patients and that dehydration, when diagnosed, should be promptly corrected.” Ardissino, Gianluigi, et al. “Hemoconcentration: a major risk factor for neurological involvement in hemolytic uremic syndrome.” Pediatric Nephrology 30.2 (2015): 345-352.
  6. This is a case report. Ito, M., et al. “Hemolytic–uremic syndrome with acute encephalopathy in a pregnant woman infected with epidemic enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli: characteristic brain images and cytokine profiles.” International Journal of Infectious Diseases 34 (2015): 119-121.

Our law firm has won lawsuits against national food and restaurant companies doing business in all 50 states: Alabama AL, Arkansas AK, California CA, Colorado CO, Connecticut CT, Delaware DE, District of Columbia DC, Florida FL, Georgia GA, Idaho ID, Illinois IL, Indiana IN, Iowa, Kansas KS, Kentucky KY, Louisiana LA, Maine ME, Maryland MD, Massachusetts MA, Michigan MI, Minnesota MN, Mississippi MS, Missouri MO, Montana MT, Nebraska NE, New Hampshire NH, New Jersey NJ, New York NY, North Carolina NC, North Dakota ND, Ohio OH, Oklahoma OK, Pennsylvania PA, Rhode Island RI, South Carolina SC, South Dakota SD, Tennessee TN, Texas TX, Vermont VT, Virginia VA, West Virginia WV, Wisconsin WI and Wyoming WY.