Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) strains cause illness in humans by producing a poison that damages the intestines and kidneys. These infections can cause serious acute illness that sometimes has long-term health effects.
In the U.S., E. coli O157: H7 is the most commonly identified STEC, but there are others that cause illness. Together STEC strains O26, O111, O103, O121, O45, and O145 account for about 80 percent of “non- O157:H7” illnesses in the U.S. Three multistate outbreaks were recently linked to one of these strains, E. coli O103. Here’s a look at each of those outbreaks:
Chicago Indoor/Jimmy John’s Clover Sprouts E. coli Outbreak
An ongoing outbreak E. coli outbreak linked to clover sprouts has sickened 39 illnesses in six states hospitalizing two of them. Most of the illnesses were reported in Utah where 27 people were sickened. Other states reporting illnesses are: Illinois (6), Flordia (3), Missouri (1) and Texas (1).
The people sickened in this outbreak range in age from 1 to 79 years old. They reported onset of illness dates from January 6, 2020 to March 2, 2020.
Many of the people sickened in this outbreak reported eating sprouts on sandwiches they purchased from Jimmy John’s sandwich shops before they became ill. Jimmy John’s has since stopped serving sprouts.
During its investigation of the outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found E. coli O103 in sprout samples of Chicago Indoor Garden products containing sprouts. Genetic tests revealed that it matched the outbreak strain cultured from those who had been sickened.
On March 13, 2020, the FDA issued an advisory that consumers should not eat five Chicago Indoor Graden products containing red clover sprouts: sprout salad, mixed greens, spring salad and red clover (with and without non-GMO labels). Three days later, Chicago Indoor Garden issued a recall for those products.
The FDA has also discovered that the strain was linked to another sprouts outbreak late last year. A common seed supplier is associated with both outbreaks.
Sprouts Unlimited/Jimmy John’s Clover Sprouts E. coli Outbreak
An E. coli O103 outbreak linked to Sprouts Unlimited clover sprouts sold at Hy Vee and Fareway grocery stores and served at Jimmy John’s restaurants in Iowa was discovered in late 2019. These illnesses were reported in Iowa. Sprouts Unlimited issued a recall for the clover sprouts.
Northfork Ground Bison E. coli Outbreak
A ground bison E. coli outbreak sickened 33 people in 2019. Eighteen people were hospitalized. illnesses were reported from March 18, 2019 to August 11, 2019. The number of cases reported from each state were: CT (2), FL (6), IL (1), MI (1), MO (1), NJ (3), NY (14) and PA (5).
Two strains of E. coli were associated with the outbreak E. coli O103 and E. coli O12. Both produce Shiga toxins.
During interviews with health officials, case-patients, ranging in age for 6 to 80 years old, reported eating ground bison at restaurants or preparing and eating it at home in the week before they became ill.
Outbreak investigators collected records from affected restaurants which revealed the ground bison was produced by Northfork Bison Distributions, Inc. Health officials performed tests on Northfork bison burgers and discovered they were positive for the outbreak strain E. coli O121.
Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak
A 10-state ground beef E. coli O103 outbreak in 2019 sickened 209 people. Twenty-nine people were hospitalized, two of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure that can be fatal. The people sickened told health officials that they ate ground beef at home or at restaurants before the became sick.
Between March 1, 2019, and May 1, 2019, this E. coli O103 outbreak sickened 209 people in 10 states. The cases from each state, reported among case-patients ranging in age from less than 1 year to 84 years old, were as follows: Florida (5), Georgia (51), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Kentucky (76), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (1), Ohio (12), Tennessee (59), and Virginia (2).
Health officials collected and tested ground beef from some of the restaurants. A test from one of the restaurants was positive for the outbreak strain. Two companies that sold ground beef to that restaurant and others issued recalls.
Ground Beef E. coli Lawsuit Filed
Pritzker Hageman E. coli lawyers filed the first lawsuit in connection with this outbreak. Our client, Melissa Carmicle, developed an E. coli infection after eating ground beef. She was hospitalized in early March and moved to intensive care when her kidneys began to fail. After a stay in the ICU she was released from the hospital. Then she began experiencing seizures and was airlifted back to the hospital where she endured another lengthy stay in the ICU. The lawsuit named K2D Inc., DBA Colorado Premium Foods as the defendant. K2D is one of the companies that issued a ground beef recall.
K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., issued a recall for roughly 113,424 pounds of ground beef on April 23, 2019. Grant Park Packing of Franklin Park, IL issued a recall for approximately 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef on Aprril 24, 2019.
The E. coli lawyers at Pritzker Hageman represent clients all over the country who have been sickened by contaminated food. If you were part of one of these outbreaks we want to help. Call us at 1-888-377-8900, text us at 612-261-0856 or, fill out the form below.