Johnson City, Tennessee, is the headquarters for a Tennessee E. coli outbreak investigation that has grown to include 11 confirmed victims and several more case patients awaiting test results. In addition, two children from Southwest Virginia suffered severe E. coli infections in the past weeks. One of them, a 2-year-old girl, died as a result of E. coli O157:H7 poisoning, possibly from food.
The 11th case was confirmed and announced by the Sullivan County Regional Health Department: “The source of the bacteria has not been identified and our staff is working closely with the Northeast Regional Health Office in Johnson City to investigate the source of illness.” The notice emphasized that the outbreak in eight counties of Northeast Tennessee is not related to the European E. coli outbreak that is centered in northern Germany, killing 26 people.
If you or a loved one has symptoms of E. coli infection highlighted by painful stomach cramps and bloody or watery diarrhea, immediately contact your physician. Doctor’s offices will know to tell public health investigators about any new cases and you may be interviewed about your food history and about other possible exposures to the pathogen.
A Tennessee E. coli lawsuit may be filed if officials can trace the source of the illnesses. National food safety law office PritzkerOlsen, P.A., is conducting its own investigation and is accepting cases from those individuals and families who have been afflicted at 1-888-377-8900 (Toll Free) or send contact information. Our law firm is one of the very few in the country practicing extensively in the area of foodborne illness litigation and we have won tens of millions of dollars over the years for victims of E. coli HUS and other complications from food poisoning. The high expense of medical treatment for E. coli poisoning caused by a food purveyor’s negligence should not fall on the victim.
Families should heed food safety warnings to cook all ground beef and other meat to internal temperatures of 160 degrees to kill any potential E. coli bacteria. E. coli O157:H7 also can contaminate raw milk, many varieties of fresh produce, shelled nuts, cheese and other food.
E. coli O157:H7 is a strain of bacteria that produces a toxin that can cause hemorrhagic colitis. This illness can develop into an extremely serious condition known as HUS, or hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause kidney failure, brain damage, strokes, and seizures in young children and the elderly. This pathogen can survive both refrigerator and freezer storage.