Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a condition which can lead to life-long kidney failure. Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) infections can damage red blood cells and lead to damaged kidneys.
The toxins produced by STECs target renal epithelial tissues—which is why bloody diarrhea is an indicator of a STEC infection. Epithelial tissues line the intestinal tract and are connected to your circulatory system. Damaged red blood cells do not filter through kidneys like normal red blood cells. Instead, these damaged red blood cells can “clog the filtering system in the kidneys, which can lead to life-threatening kidney failure” (Mayo Clinic).
Those at most risk for HUS are “children younger than 5 years and adults aged 65 and older (CDC). Anyone can become greatly ill from a STEC infection, but those at greatest risk should be extra cautious of consuming contaminated food. The CDC also reports that “about 5–10% of people diagnosed with E. coli O157 infection” will develop HUS.
According to FoodSafety.gov, STEC infections produce toxic substances that “destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS can require intensive care, kidney dialysis, and transfusions” (Food Safety). Hemodialysis is when your blood is filtered through a machine because your kidneys can no longer provide adequate filtration.
To avoid risk, follow good hygiene principles and prepare food safely. Following the guidelines for preparing meat will help reduce the likelihood of a contamination. STEC infections can be caused by consuming contaminated foods or swimming in contaminated swimming pools. Some general guidelines to follow include: avoiding unpasteurized products, washing your hands prior to handling food, avoiding cross-contamination of raw meat with surfaces, and properly sanitizing utensils, surfaces, and hands during the preparation of food. Use a meat thermometer to ensure meat reaches a high enough temperature to kill bacteria. Here is a link to recommended temperatures: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/mintemp.html.
Note from Page Sponsor: HUS Lawsuits are common after food borne outbreaks due to the extreme cost of medical treatment and what can be life-long implications of HUS.