CDC identifies likely source of local E.coli outbreak, patients’ attorney sues

ATLANTA, Georgia (WTVG) – The Centers for Disease Control has identified a possible source of a local E. coli outbreak.

A CDC update on Friday said it had not confirmed a specific food as the source of the outbreak, with most people who got sick said they ate sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurant.

It said that 86 percent of people interviewed reported eating at Wendy’s in the week before becoming ill. Wendy’s restaurants where infected people ate are located in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The CDC said Wendy’s is removing romaine lettuce used on sandwiches from area restaurants as a precaution, and that the chain uses a different type of romaine lettuce in salads.

The agency says it is not asking people to stop eating at Wendy’s or to stop eating romaine lettuce. At this time there is no evidence to indicate that romaine lettuce sold in grocery stores or served in other restaurants has been linked to an outbreak.

Investigators are working to confirm whether romaine lettuce is indeed the source of the outbreak and whether it was served or sold at other establishments. You can find updates on the outbreak here on the dedicated CDC dashboard.

The Wood County Health Department said that 20 cases of E. coli have been reported in the county recently and seven people have been hospitalized. Outbreaks of E. coli O157 in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania have infected 37 people and hospitalized ten, the CDC said Friday. In those cases, three people in Michigan have a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. According to the CDC, no deaths have been reported.

The Wood County Health Department states that if you are experiencing symptoms you should contact your doctor and request testing. The Department of Health also asks that you fill out this survey to report your symptoms.

An attorney representing some of those infected in the outbreak told 13abc Friday night that he plans to file a lawsuit in the case. One of her clients is a two-year-old in Michigan who has been in the hospital for two weeks.

“These are people with stomach pain and not everyone’s recovering,” said Bill Marler, a food safety attorney representing some infected patients. “These are people who are hospitalized and may have long-term complications.”

Marler said patients should be entitled to compensation for their medical bills and that their recovery has a long way to go. You can read the full filing below.

13abc reached out to Wendy’s about the outbreak and the lawsuit. The company issued the following statement on 13abc.

We are cooperating fully with public health officials in the ongoing investigation of regional E. coli outbreaks reported in some Midwestern states. While the CDC has not yet confirmed a specific food as the source of that outbreak, we are taking precautions to remove sandwich lettuce from restaurants in that area. The lettuce we use in salads is different, and is not affected by this action. As a company, we are committed to maintain our high standards of food safety and quality.

The CDC says what you should do if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Call your healthcare provider right away if severe e coli Symptoms, such as diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever over 102˚F, bloody stools, or vomiting so much that you cannot keep fluids down and are not urinating much.
  • If you have. have symptoms of e coliHelp us solve this outbreak:
    • Write down what you ate in the week before you got sick.
    • Report your illness to your local or state health department.
    • Answer questions from public health officials about your illness.

Facts about E. coli from the CDC:

  • Symptoms of Shiga Venom e coli (STEC) infection varies from person to person, but often includes severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which is usually not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C).
  • Most people recover in 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are serious or even life-threatening.
  • Most people with STEC infections start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking anything containing the bacteria. However, illnesses can begin anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

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