Spartanburg, SC E. coli, HUS and TTP from Mexican Restaurant

An outbreak of E. coli O157 and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) has been associated with eating at a Spartanburg-area Mexican Restaurant, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).  HUS is a severe complication of an E. coli infection that causes kidney failure and can lead to stroke, blindness, heart failure, pancreatitis, and a host of other health problems. HUS most often develops in young children. When E. coli infects the kidneys of adults, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) can develop.

I and my team of E. coli lawyers have handled many cases like this throughout the United States. Many of our cases involve restaurants.

Two of the three outbreak victims interviewed by DHEC have E. coli-HUS. Eight additional outbreak victims have not yet been interviewed. All of them ate at the Spartanburg-area Mexican restaurant the last week of April, 2012.

Because of the high incidence of HUS, DHEC has issued a health advisory to medical professionals requesting heightened surveillance for persons presenting with symptoms consistent with Shiga toxin producing E. coli (i.e., enterohemorrhagic E. coli), including diarrhea that is often bloody, HUS in or TTP in adults:

  • E coli signs and symptoms: gastroenteritis with diarrhea and abdominal cramps (fever and bloody stools may or may not be present), and/or HUS with or without gastroenteritis, which typically develops a week after the onset of diarrhea.
  • HUS signs and symptoms: acute onset of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, renal injury, and low platelet count. Most cases of HUS occur after an E. coli infection. In some cases, the child develops symptoms of HUS before the E. coli infection is diagnosed. In some cases, there is no longer any E. coli in the intestines of the child, making a post-HUS diagnosis of E. coli difficult. This is why the CDC recommends that all children with suspected cases of HUS should have their bottoms (dried feces) swabbed immediately and tested for E. coli.

The CDC does not recommend the use of antibiotics for patients with suspected E. coli infections until complete diagnostic testing can be performed and E. coli is ruled out. However, clinical decision
making must be tailored to each individual patient. There may be indications for antibiotics in patients with severe intestinal inflammation (E. coli colitis) if perforation is of concern. We are representing a client sickened in another E. coli outbreak who had such severe colitis that she had to have part of her colon removed and now has a colostomy bag.

Spartanburg, SC is in Spartanburg County, South Carolina. It is the second-largest city in the greater Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area and is part of the northwestern South Carolina region known as “The Upstate.” Spartanburg is 98 miles from Columbia, SC, 80 miles west of Charlotte, NC and about 190 miles northeast of Atlanta, Georgia.

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Category: Food Poisoning
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