Fresh on the heels of revelations by ABC news that three different E. coli strains have been linked to the nationwide outbreak of E. coli in cookie dough, the Wall Street Journal reports that Nestle is restarting production.  The Danville, Virginia plant was closed on June 19, when E. coli illnesses across the country were tied to the raw cookie dough produced there.  The FDA investigation of the plant found E. coli in an unopened package of the cookie dough and E. coli was also found in in a package of Nestle refrigerated cookie dough in the home of a victim.   Both of those strains, or serotypes, are different from that found in the stool of the 72 people who were infected by eating the cookie dough, meaning that three strains have now been associated with the product. 

Interestingly, Nestle continued processing other food products at the Danville factory while the cookie dough production was shut down. 

Questions continue to swirl around the outbreak, as no source has yet been identified in the E. coli contamination of the Nestle Cookie Dough product.  Now the multiple strains of E. coli connected to the outbreak add another layer of mystery – and yet, production resumes.

One year old Isaiah Romero of Sioux Center, Iowa finds himself in Sanford Children’s Hospital tonight, fighting back against Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS).

KSFY Action News in Sioux Falls, South Dakota  where Sanford Children’s is located reports its possible Isaiah is a victim of the the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak blamed on the Greeley Beef Plant owned by the JBS Swift Company.

Post-diarrheal Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (D+HUS) is a severe, life-threatening complication that occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with E. coli O157:H7 or other Shiga toxin (Stx) producing E. coli. D+HUS was first described in 1955, but was not known to be secondary to E. coli infections until 1982. It is now recognized as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children. Adolescents and adults are also susceptible, as are the elderly who often succumb to the disease.

According to KSFY: “A few weeks ago Isaiah started with basic diarrhea, then vomiting. There was an E. coli test done, but it came back negative. He developed HUS this past weekend, which commonly forms from E. coli. While not every child that gets E. coli, also gets HUS, there is a small percentage that does. It attacks the red blood cells in the body and that leads to kidney failure. Isaiah has been on dialysis and had a number of other tests done to track his progress.”

In the United Kingdom, Professor Hugh Pennington wants all food inspections, primary and secondary, to be unannounced unless “there are specific and justifiable circumstances or reasons why a pre-arranged visit is necessary”.

The Wales News reports that:

In his report into the 2005 epidemic that struck down more than 150 people, most of them children, across the South Wales Valleys and claimed the life of Mason Jones, aged five, Professor Hugh Pennington found that all of the inspections made at the premises of the butcher responsible in the months before people became ill had been pre-arranged.

The largest E. coli outbreak in Wales history has led to a campaign group to lobby for a law that would make it illegal for food hygiene officers to warn the businesses they are about to inspect.
Now unannounced inspections are considered the “best practice,” but do not always get carried out that way.  The Wales News has a story on the inspections controversy here.

 Now the safety of private water wells is being called into question in Arkansas.   

“We don’t recommend that people drink water with E. coli in it under any circumstances. There’s no safe level of E. coli as far as we’re concerned,” says Ed Barum.

Barum, with the State Health Department, spoke with KTHV-TV in Little Rock.   The State Health Department tests water samples for  private well owners. 

Results show counties in northwest Arkansas have the highest number of contaminated wells.

Benton County has 85 wells have testing positive for E. coli. Other counties, however, have a higher percentage of contaminated wells. In Conway County, for example, testing of 84 wells came back with 28 positive for one E. Coli strain or another.

Owners of wells with bad water are told to install a chlorination or filtration system. Barum says the Health Department will help ” find a solution that will work for them in their particular area with their particular well.”

KTHV speculates that the high concentration of contaminated wells in northwest Arkansas could be due to bacteria  the great number of chicken farms in the area.

However Barum told the station that , “There’s not a good way to say this is the cause. There’s not a good way for us to say in northwest Arkansas the cause for private drinking well water is chicken farming or pig farming or cattle farming. That’s just not possible right now with what we know.”

For more, check this out.


You can’t even trust Bambi anymore. Doug Powell, from Barfblog, emailed me the story of a young girl who suffered HUS after contracting an E. coli infection from handling deer meat.

Beverly said the only other thing she could think of was that her husband, Red, had shot a deer the Friday after Thanksgiving. She helped him skin it and prepare bigger cuts to send off to a local butcher, but Red cut the tenderloin himself. "April was helping her daddy with the tenderloins," Beverly recalled. April placed the pieces of meat into freezer bags, handling the meat with her hands.

Here is the interesting part:

"Deer harbor infection – it’s estimated that 17 percent of the whitetail population harbors E. coli," she said, and it appears they harbor a pretty nasty strain of it. The infection grows in the digestive system. But in the process of gutting and cleaning a deer carcass, it is easy to nick the bowels and spill the infected fluids.

E. coli O157:H7 was first recognized as a pathogen as a result of an outbreak of unusual gastrointestinal illness in 1982. The outbreak was traced to contaminated hamburgers, and the illness was similar to other incidents in the United States and Japan. The etiologic agent of the illness was identified as a rareO157:H7 serotype of Escherichia coli in 1983. This serotype had only been isolated once before, from a sick patient in 1975.

E. coli O157:H7 has jumped from cows to Bambi over the last 30 years or so. The fact that E. coli O157:H7 (and other emerging pathogens) have become such a part of the current food environment has to be taken into account in making food safety policy decisions. Comments like, “I used to drink raw milk or eat raw hamburger when I was a kid” are misplaced in light of the reality of the present existence of these pathogens. Beliefs that “grass-fed” meat (wonder what Bambie’s last meal was?) or “locally grown” or “raw” food is inherently safer have to take into account the present reality of these very nasty bugs.

It’s hard to believe, but there is a county in the big, rich state of California where an E. coli death does not even get a full ten days worth of investigation before the case is closed without finding a source.

Oh, but public health officials involved can assure the public that the county’s restaurant food and water is all safe. "Everything is fine, move along!"

The place we are talking about is Solano County, CA where a Dixon boy died Dec. 19th from an E. coli infection. We originally reported on the death here on Dec. 20th.  Without finding the source, public health officials there abandoned their investigation on Dec. 26th.

The county health officer, Dr. Ronald Chapman, says he doesn’t know how the Dixon teenager was infected, but there was no contamination of the area’s water or restaurant food. He says there’s no threat to the public.

The boy’s name and age were not disclosed, supposedly for privacy reasons.

Tests showed a second Dixon child who recovered from severe diarrhea was not infected with E. coli. No other cases have been reported.

Chapman says E. coli is present naturally in the intestinal tract and sometimes can enter the blood stream. Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. 

A  Dixon, CA child died of an E. coli infection late Thursday, according to Solano County Public Health officials.  They were investigating the death along with testing on a second Dixon child  who displayed some symptoms but is now home and "doing well." 

"It is a tragedy to lose a child and our hearts and prayers go out to this child’s family and friends," said Dr. Ronald Chapman, MD, MPH, Health Officer and Deputy Director in a press release . "Public Health is investigating the death to see if we can identify where or how the minor contracted the E. coli infection. Sometimes an investigation can point to a probable cause and in other cases, the source of the infection remains unknown."

Solano Public Health staff are back-tracking the minor’s activities, food sources, and water sources, and are in close communication with the State laboratory which is testing blood samples to determine the specific strain of E. coli.

Both water districts in Dixon have been testing upstream and downstream from the dead child’s home with negative results for E. coli.

There is a lot of Kansas separating the towns of Liberal and Matfield Green.  

Liberal is an Oklahoma panhandle border town.  The 20,000 who make Liberal home depend on oil, gas, and helium as well as agriculture.  Its closer to Denver, Colorado than Kansas City, Kansas.

Matfield Green is just off I-35, northeast of Wichita halfway to Topeka. The Chase County town has just 60 people.  Known for the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Chase County has about 3000 residents.

What binds these two Kansas towns together are the deaths of two children from E. coli, and the Wesley Regional Medical Center in Wichita, where both died. 

Dead is 4-year old Brant Burton, son of T.W. and Rachelle Burton of Matfield Green and 18-month old Tanner Strickland of Liberal.  Tanner’s brother continues to battle E. coli at the Wichita hospital.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is investigating the deaths.



We thought we’d do something different today, and just give a rundown on the E, coli news we’ve been involved in.  Every week is getting to be E. coli week in America.  This is a look-back on the last one.  Here we go!

We received several calls last Monday from  sorority sisters who had been sickened by E. coli O157:H7 at the University of Colorado in Boulder.  Interestingly, the common denominator seems to be Jimmy John’s – just off campus.  Coincidentally, the first inspection since 7/28/06 occurred on 9/28/08 and the report was mailed,also on Monday, to Mr. Prescott (the owner) .  The purpose was to investigate "suspect food-borne illness complaint who reported eating at the facility. Complainants had approximately 13 sandwich plates with 10 sandwiches each delivered to their facility on Sept. 20th.  Sandwiches included Big John’s, Turkey Tom, Ham and Cheese, and Vegetarian."  E. coli does not seem to be listed as an ingredient – yet.

On Tuesday Butte County health officials announced  that leftover frozen tainted tri-tip, that sickened at least 27 people, tested positive for E. coli O157:H7 bacteria.  The bacteria in the meat perfectly matches (by PFGE genetic fingerprint) the bacteria found in stool samples taken from several people who became ill.


Continue Reading Just Another Week of E. coli Taking Victims In Amercia

Bill Scanlon at the Rocky Mountain News this morning is reporting with some detail on the Colorado 3-year old who died Friday of E coli O17:H7.   According to The Rocky:


The Aurora day-care facility attended by a 3-year-old who died Friday of an E. coli bacteria infection was unlicensed, so it was never inspected on how it handled food or changed diapers, health officials said Tuesday.

Twenty-one other youngsters attended the same private home day-care center as the child who died of kidney failure from complications of the bacteria, said Dr. Richard Vogt, executive director of the Tri-County Health Department.

"We’re working to test those 21 kids as we speak," Vogt said Tuesday.

While it will take a few days to get the test results back, he said a few of the kids have mild gastrointestinal upset, Vogt said.

By being unlicensed, the day care business escapes the annual inspection required by the State of Colorado.   For more, go here.