In the Last Few Years, 302 People have Acquired One Particular Strain of E. coli O157:H7: Six Outbreaks All Linked to Leafy Greens
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has released a new report about a particular strain of E. coli O157:H7, a Shiga-Toxin producing strain of E. coli that causes humans to have bloody diarrhea, causes kidney damage, and can be life threatening. While cattle, specifically beef, has been the primary conduit of many E. coli outbreaks, this particularly dangerous pathogen is finding its way into the food chain in leafy greens.
According to the CDC, E. coli O157:H7 cause about 20 deaths in the U.S. annually and sickens 63.000 on average. Its symptoms last for a week to two weeks, in most hosts, but can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome in children those with a weak immune system or elderly people. In young children the prognosis can be very serious, with mortality rates among the hardest hit at only 60 to 70%. The impact of HUS can last weeks, months, or impact a person’s health for life, often requiring multiple kidney transplants. Cases of HUS, according to Ron Simon, a national e. coli lawyer and food safety expert, “can be life altering. The Shiga -toxin causes damage to the small blood vessels if the kidneys, and can cause clots. If the kidneys become clogged, there is ensuing kidney failure. Careful monitoring of kidney function is imperative during episodes of E. coli poisoning, and dialysis may be needed.”
Th strain of E. coli O157:H7 that has been linked to leafy greens has been identified as REPEXH02, a recurring, emerging, and/or persistent strain (REP Strain). This strain was first noticed in 2015, and by 2020, just under 60% of attributable E. coli O157:H7 illnesses were traced to leafy greens – otherwise know to be vegetable row crops.
The findings were reported in the latest edition of the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal. The data were drawn from the PulseNet database of 356 isolates related to the outbreak strain. Of the 356, 302 were from people sickened in 6 outbreaks between September 27, 2016, to January 3, 2020.