Three individuals in Huron County have been confirmed to have E. coli O157:H7, while a fourth individual remains presumptive with lab results pending and a fifth individual tested negative for the infection.

Three of the five are hospitalized, according to a Huron County Health Department press release.  Cindy Rochefort, Huron County Health Services Director, said the source of the infections has not been found, and the heath department will share the information with the community if the source is identified.

According to Austin KWTX TV, Derek Scott “Bubba” Kirby, 3, of Goldthwaite, who’s been fighting for his young life for several weeks at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, will be transferred Monday or Tuesday to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston where he can receive more specialized care, his mother, Deven Denman, said.

Bubba contracted E. coli from the floor of a rodeo arena after he ended up with a mouthful of dirt when he was thrown from a sheep during a mutton-busting event and then developed serious complications that caused his kidneys to shut down and led to a stroke.

He’s one of the 5 to 10 percent of E. coli patients who develop a potentially life-threatening complication, hemolytic uremic syndrome, which develops when E. coli bacteria lodged in the digestive tract make toxins that enter the bloodstream and start to destroy red blood cells.

He’s unconscious and on dialysis and had a rough run last week as doctors attempted to wean him from the pain medication he’s been receiving, his mother said.

Denman said Monday doctors were starting over on the weaning process after deciding they decreased dosages too quickly.

She said she’s grateful for all of the “wonderful work that has been done for Bubba,” but said the Houston hospital has a nephrologist with state-of the-art equipment to help with the youngster’s kidneys as well as a pain management team to take over the process of weaning from medication.

She said he will also require physical therapy.

Goldthwaite residents have been holding carwashes and other benefits, selling T-shirts and praying for the youngster since learning of Bubba’s plight.

Word of the little boy’s fight has spread well beyond the town of 1,800 however, thanks to a Facebook page, Bubba’s Angels, which had more than 4,600 followers from around the country Monday.

A Longmont, Colorado goat dairy that has been ordered to stop distributing raw milk products after 16 people became ill after drinking milk. Two children who drank goat milk from the Billy Goat Dairy required hospitalization, Boulder County Public Health reported Wednesday. Of the people who reported becoming ill from consuming the milk products, lab tests confirmed the presence of Campylobacter and E. coli O157:H7, the health department said.

Health department officials in Minnesota this month reported five E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to drinking raw milk from a dairy in Gibbon, Minnesota. All of the sick were infected with a strain of bacteria that has the same “pulsed field gel electrophoresis” (PFGE) pattern, or DNA fingerprint. One infected child developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a potentially deadly complication.

Counting Colorado and Minnesota, there have now been at least ten outbreaks of illness tied to raw milk since January 2010. The other states with outbreaks include Nevada, Utah (two outbreaks), New York, and Pennsylvania. There was also a multistate outbreak with illnesses confirmed in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. Washington has had two as well. And, even worse, these outbreaks involved at least three different pathogens: E. coli O157:H7; Salmonella, and Campylobacter. More specifically:

• In January, a dairy farm in New York was linked to five Campylobacter infections.

• Another outbreak of Campylobacter was reported in February in Pennsylvania. State health officials there said approximately ten people became ill after drinking raw milk. One of the ill developed Guillain – Barre Syndrome, became paralyzed, and is still hospitalized.

• In March, raw milk caused at least seventeen Campylobacter infections in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana.

• In April, Utah was the site of Salmonella and Campylobacter outbreaks tied to raw milk. The first cluster included nine reported cases of Campylobacter infection. The second cluster included six reported cases of Salmonella.

• In May, Nevada health officials reported that a child became seriously ill with a Campylobacter infection after eating homemade raw milk cheese that was illegally sold door-to-door.

• Washington has had two E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks both linked to the same dairy.

Raw Milk Dairy is having a problem and it needs to be fixed.


(Kansas City, Kan., June 9, 2010) – EPA Region 7 has taken a series of civil enforcement actions against three beef feedlot operations in Iowa for violations of the Clean Water Act, as part of a continuing enforcement emphasis aimed at ending harmful discharges of pollutants from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) into the region’s rivers and streams.

“In some instances, we are finding harmful bacteria such as E.coli in wastewater discharged by feedlots at levels that are exponentially higher than the levels at which EPA permits municipal wastewater treatment systems to discharge their treated wastewater,” EPA Regional Administrator Karl Brooks said. “This is just one measure of the harm that can come when feedlots fail to operate within the law.”

Runoff from CAFOs may contain such pollutants as pathogens and sediment, as well as nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which can harm aquatic life and impact water quality.

Of the three most recent enforcement actions, one involves a civil penalty against a CAFO for failure to comply with its national Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Bruce Feedlot, of Hastings, Iowa, has agreed to pay a $31,573 civil penalty for its unauthorized discharges of pollutants to Indian Creek and its tributaries in Mills County, Iowa. EPA’s settlement with Bruce Feedlot is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final.

The remaining two enforcement actions involve administrative compliance orders issued to medium-sized CAFOs, which are feedlots that confine between 300 and 999 cattle. EPA has documented significant water quality problems associated with medium CAFOs and is making enforcement at these operations a priority:

Groeneweg Farm, of Rock Valley, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by October 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into an unnamed tributary of the Rock River in Sioux County, Iowa.

Gradert/Cla-Don/Winterfeld Feedlot, of Ireton, Iowa, must apply for an NPDES permit and complete wastewater controls at its facilities by October 31, 2011, to end unauthorized discharges of pollutants into Six Mile Creek in Sioux County, Iowa.

Cargill is piloting the use of video monitoring at its US beef plants in order to reduce the risk of E. coli and salmonella contamination.

The food giant has already trialled remote video auditing (RVA) at 10 beef-harvesting facilities in the US, and the results are said to have been “terrific”, with a higher compliance rate already identified and competition between plants over performance scores.

The system is now being introduced at the beef facility in Fresno, California. Auditors from Arrowsight Inc. will monitor on how consistently workers perform tasks in near-real time, and provide statistical feedback to management.

For the pilot, Cargill is focusing on the stages where workers clean and sanitise knives and other equipment. It will also look at dressing procedures to check proper protocol is followed.

Elton John has postponed two planned Seattle concerts with Billy Joel on the advice of his doctor, Live Nation announced today. The pop singer is suffering from "a serious case of E. coli bacterial infection and influenza," according to a written statement released by the concert promoter today.

Live Nation and KeyArena are asking ticketholders to keep their tickets until more information is available. The concerts, originally scheduled for Nov. 4 and 7, may be rescheduled. Well, I am going to be in China anyway.

Clinical Infectious Diseases 2009; 49:000–000 – Major Article

L. Hannah Gould, 1, Linda Demma, 1, Timothy F. Jones, 3, Sharon Hurd, 4, Duc J. Vugia, 5, Kirk Smith, 6, Beletshachew Shiferaw, 7, Suzanne Segler, 2, Amanda Palmer, 8, Shelley Zansky, 9, Patricia M. Griffin, 1, and the Emerging Infections Program FoodNet Working Group

Background. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a life‐threatening illness usually caused by infection with Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli O157 (STEC O157). We evaluated the age‐specific rate of HUS and death among persons with STEC O157 infection and the risk factors associated with developing HUS.

Methods. STEC O157 infections and HUS cases were reported from 8 sites participating in the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network during 2000–2006. For each case of STEC O157 infection and HUS, demographic and clinical outcomes were reported. The proportion of STEC O157 infections resulting in HUS was determined.

Results. A total of 3464 STEC O157 infections were ascertained; 218 persons (6.3%) developed HUS. The highest proportion of HUS cases (15.3%) occurred among children aged <5 years. Death occurred in 0.6% of all patients with STEC O157 infection and in 4.6% of those with HUS. With or without HUS, persons aged 60 years had the highest rate of death due to STEC O157 infection. Twelve (3.1%) of 390 persons aged 60 years died, including 5 (33.3%) of 15 persons with HUS and 7 (1.9%) of 375 without. Among children aged <5 years, death occurred in 4 (3.0%) of those with HUS and 2 (0.3%) of those without.

Conclusions. Young children and females had an increased risk of HUS after STEC O157 infection. With or without HUS, elderly persons had the highest proportion of deaths associated with STEC O157 infection. These data support recommendations for aggressive supportive care of young children and the elderly early during illness due to STEC O157.

1 Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector‐Borne, and Enteric Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 2 Georgia Emerging Infections Program, Atlanta, Georgia; 3 Tennessee Department of Health, Nashville; 4 Connecticut Emerging Infections Program, New Haven; 5 California Department of Public Health, Richmond; 6 Minnesota Department of Health, St. Paul; 7 Oregon Department of Human Services, Portland; 8 Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Baltimore; and 9 New York State Department of Health, Albany.

It seems that any serious discussion of E. coli O157:H7 always has to start with one event: the 1993 outbreak associated with the Jack in the Box restaurant chain. This, of course, is with good reason. That outbreak left over 700 persons ill and 4 children dead. The “9/11 for the food industry,” as a certain trial lawyer has occasionally referred to the outbreak, precipitated a whirlwind of events including media coverage, consumer outrage, lawsuits, and stricter federal regulations regarding meat safety. Though the swell of emotion that spiraled out of the Jack in the Box disaster dulls somewhat with each passing year, the federal regulations that sprung up in its wake continue to generate more questions.

To understand the significance of these regulations, a little background information is useful. The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) stated mission renders it “responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry, and egg products is safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled and packaged.” FSIS operates as part of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). To promote its mission, FSIS has the power—under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA)—to, among other things, seek the recall of products that have been deemed “adulterated.” FSIS drastically shifted how it interpreted and enforced the FMIA in 1994 when, following the Jack in the Box outbreak, the agency declared E. coli O157:H7 to be an adulterant. This marked a dramatic change from its previous stance that pathogens in raw meat were not adulterants.

The declaration of E. coli O157:H7 as an adulterant was met with strong opposition from the meat industry. In a lawsuit filed soon after the 1994 declaration, the industry accused the USDA of not following proper rulemaking procedures and of acting in an arbitrary and capricious manner beyond its legal authority. The United States District Court held, however, that the USDA was allowed to interpret the FMIA and that the USDA has the power to declare substances to be adulterants with the intended purpose of spurring the meat industry to create and implement preventative measures.

During the early part of this decade, however, it became readily apparent that O157:H7 was not the only deadly pathogen in E. coli family—in fact, far from it. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognized this fact when, in 2000, the agency made all Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) nationally notifiable. The CDC subsequently referred to non-O157 STEC as emerging pathogens that pose a significant health threat, with more strains reported every year. Still, FSIS remained steadfast in its stance that O157:H7 is the only enterohemorrhagic E. coli strain that should be deemed to be an adulterant.

So what’s wrong with FSIS’s position regarding E. coli O157:H7? The simple answer is this: the people of this nation do not deserve another Jack in the Box-sized catastrophe as a pre-requisite for currently needed agency action. The scientific and medical communities have recognized the dangers of all enterohemorrhagic E. coli, not just O157:H7, again and again. Representatives of the CDC estimate that non-O157 STEC causes 36,700 illnesses, 1,100 hospitalizations, and 30 deaths annually. Nearly two years ago today, on October 17, 2007, the CDC and FSIS even went so far as to hold a public meeting to consider the public health significance of non-O157 STEC. In the Notice of the meeting, FSIS referred to the “growing awareness that STECs other than E. coli O157:H7 (non-O157:H7 STECs) cause sporadic and outbreak-associated illnesses.” Nevertheless, following the meeting, FSIS failed to re-interpret its policies.

This brings us to today. We’re nearing the end of 2009, closing in on seventeen years since the Jack in the Box outbreak. Millions of Americans have suffered foodborne illnesses, injuries, and deaths in that time, thousands of them likely due to enterohemorrhagic E. coli other than O157:H7. It is on behalf of those persons that the law firm of Marler Clark has authored a petition to FSIS requesting the agency to issue an interpretive rule declaring all enterohemorrhagic STEC, including non-O157:H7 serotypes, to be adulterants within the meaning of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

The petition details the scientific and legal bases for the requested action, but perhaps more importantly it details the suffering that food contaminated with non-O157:H7 enterohemorrhagic E. coli inflicted upon three individuals: June Dunning, Megan Richards, and Shiloh Johnson. Ms. Dunning, whose infection was caused by E. coli O146:H21, unfortunately succumbed to her illness, passing in 2006. Ms. Richards and Ms. Johnson endured lengthy hospitalizations, kidney failure, and will both endure a lifetime of medical complications as a result of their E. coli O121:H19 and E. coli O111 infections (respectively).

It would be naïve to assume that a change to FSIS policy will immediately rid the world of all foodborne E. coli infections. It has been unequivocally proven, however, that all enterohemorrhagic E. coli are potentially lethal pathogens that we must fight tooth and nail to keep out of this nation’s food supply. If we trust science, and do our part to push government agencies to enact regulations to require better monitoring, we can no doubt begin to prevent further harm. In the end, after all, the requisite wading through the mess of bureaucracy required to change federal regulation is all worth it, so long as the outcome prevents at least one more case like that of June Dunning, Megan Richards, or Shiloh Johnson.

 We must be pass the time when all the stories seemed to be about how organics would make you able to jump tall buildings in a single bound.

At Kansas State University, researchers have found that “cattle production systems” do not affect E. coli prevalence in beef.  The study looked at organic and “natural production systems” and apparently found that antibiotic susceptibility of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 was unchanged.

We think a better way to communicate what KSU researchers are talking about would be to think of “natural” as standard operating procedure.   The standard method cattle ranchers use to employ some antibiotics and hormones, and use non-organic feeds that are regulated only by the owner of the brand name.

The organic method uses only organic feeds as regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture and do not use antibiotics, hormones or other veterinary products.

“The prevalences of E. coli 0157:H7 that we observed in organically and naturally (SOP) raised cattle were similar in the previously reported prevalence in conventionally raised cattle,” the researchers said. “No major differences in antibiotic susceptibility patterns among the isolates were observed.”

There more on the KSU study in Foodstuffs, the weekly newspaper of agribusiness.

We’ve known since the 1993 Jack-in-the-Box outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 that the big hamburger chains are concerned about cooking temperatures. Jack-in-the Box did not like Washington State’s rule for cooking ground beef to 158 degrees Fahrenheit because customers complained about the hamburgers being too tough to eat.

Sixteen years have passed, but the big hamburger chains are still getting those kind of complaints. In the UK, McDonald’s submitted information to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) about possible reduction in cooking times.

The government’s Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food requires that hamburgers be cooked for two minutes at 158 degrees Fahrenheit. However, other times and temperatures can be used when procedures are proven to be safe.

That’s what McDonald’s was up to in the UK when the victim’s rights group known as HUSH requested a copy of the information that the world’s biggest hamburger chain had submitted to weaken the rule.   FSA refused to give up the information to HUSH.

On appeal, however, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upheld the HUSH complaint. HUSH argued it could not contribute to the consultation without all the facts.

McDonald’s said its “top priority” is customer safety and that it “fully complies” with FSA guidelines.