E. coli-HUS Complications and Treatment

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a severe complication of an infection of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, usually E. coli O157, but also E. coli O26, E. coli O45, E. coli O103, E. coli O111, E. coli O121 and E. coli O145. The Shiga toxins produced by E. coli bacteria damage red blood cells, which creates small clots that clog the filtering system in the kidneys, causing HUS. The kidneys always suffer some injury in this condition.

HUS is characterized by hemolytic anemia (too few red blood cells), thrombocytopenia (too few blood platelets), and kidney failure. Complications of HUS include the following (several of them are related):

  • Acute renal failure (kidney failure);
  • Severe anemia (very low red blood cell count);
  • Severe high blood pressure (hypertension);
  • Seizures (caused by vascular damage or cerebral hemorrhage);
  • Coma;
  • Thrombotic stroke (blood flow is impaired because of a blockage (thrombosis) to one or more of the arteries supplying blood to the brain);
  • Hemorrhagic stroke (breakage or “blowout” of a blood vessel in the brain);
  • Hemiplegia (total paralysis of the arm, leg, and trunk on the same side of the body);
  • Hemiparesis (weekness on one side of the body);
  • Dystonic posturing (movement disorder);
  • Diffuse cerebral edema (brain swelling due to excess water);
  • Cortical blindness;
  • Heart failure or other cardiovascular problems;
  • Respiratory failure (this is usually fatal);
  • Gastrointestinal complications;
  • Hemorrhagic colitis (inflammation of the colon that lead to necrosis of the colon and the need for surgery to remove part of the colon);
  • Pancreatitis;
  • Liver damage;
  • Transient diabetes (related to the pancreatitis);
  • Jaundice;
  • Rectal prolapse (the walls of the rectum protrude through the anus).

In most cases, the first signs of HUS are E. coli symptoms, which include vomiting, stomach cramps, fever (sometimes), and bloody diarrhea. Within a week of onset of these, the E. coli victim will become irritable and have little or no urine that may be red. Additional HUS symptoms at this later stage include seizures, skin rash, yellow skin (jaundice), unexplained bruises, bleeding from the nose or mouth, swelling of the face, hands, feet, or entire body.

E. coli-HUS patients are generally hospitalized for weeks to months. E. coli-HUS can be fatal. Our law firm has helped families with personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against food processors, distributors, restaurants, retailers and others.

HUS Treatment

E. coli-HUS treatment may involve:

  • Dialysis (does the work of the kidney, filtering wastes and extra fluid from the body)
  • Medications
  • Transfusion of packed red blood cells and platelets
  • Plasmatherapy.

This is a serious illness in both children and adults; however, with proper treatment, more than half of patients will recover, although there is always a risk of future health problems related to the HUS.

Future Health Problems

A recent journal article entitled “Need for Long-term Follow-up in Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli– Associated hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Due to Late-Emerging Sequelae” (Clinical Infectious Disease  2012:54(10):1413-21) is a “must-read” for parents of children who developed HUS from an E. coli infection caused by food or beverages.

The most important finding in the study is that even so-called “fully recovered patients” have to be followed for at least five years in order to detect late-emerging health problems. The study’s authors stated:

Thirty percent of HUS patients presented with hypertension, impaired renal function, or neurologic symptoms at the 5-year follow-up. This group of patients was heterogeneous, with only 54% of patients presenting with symptoms already at the 1-year follow-up and the rest presenting with sequelae for the first time 2, 3 or 5 years after the acute phase.

These risks of future kidney failure, neurological damage, diabetes and heart problems need to be factored in when seeking compensation for E. coli-HUS food poisoning victims. We’re letting food safety violators off the hook if this is not done.

Fred Pritzker is a national food safety lawyer. He and his Bad Bug Law Team® represent children and adults in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against food companies, restaurants and others. They have won million+ settlements from many large companies. Request a free consultation with Fred and his team: click here now or call 1-888-377-8900 (toll free).

Share this article:

Category: Food Poisoning
Ready to talk?

We're here to listen. Tell us what happened to you.

We are not paid unless you win. Submitting this form does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply