The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has joined the investigation into the new five-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that is causing severe infections. The agency is collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state partners and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foods Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) to discover the food source of the outbreak that has sickened 16 people in five states.

The 56 percent hospitalization rate is almost twice the average. Of the nine people hospitalized, three have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure associated with E. coli infections, and one person has died.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that can be bloody. The patients in this outbreak, who range in age 10 to 95 years old, reported the onset of symptoms on dates ranging from December 23, 2020, to January 7. 2021. The number of cases from each state is: Arkansas (6), New York (1), Oklahoma (5), Virginia (2), and Washington (2). The fatality was reported in Washington.

Health officials don’t yet know the food source, but thanks to whole genome sequencing they do know that the outbreak strain is the same one linked to the 2018 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, AZ that killed five people, and a deadly 2020 E. coli outbreak.

Because USDA FSIS regulates meat and poultry and the FDA regulates other foods, usually just one of them works on an outbreak with the CDC. There have been two recent outbreaks where all three of them were involved, both linked to prepackaged salad with cooked chicken as the identified as the food source.

Today, Food Poisoning Bulletin looked at all of the multistate E.coli O157:H7 outbreaks from 2006- 2020 to see if they shed some light on the potential food source of the new outbreak.

If you recently developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection from contaminated food and would like a free consultation with an experienced E. coli lawyer, please contact the Pritzker Hageman E. coli Legal Team. We have represented clients in every major E. coli outbreak in the U.S. including those who battled HUS  and families who suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.

E. coli lawyer - CDC Map of E. coli O157:H7 outbreak