The CDC reports that seven people in six states are sick with E. coli O157:H7 infections linked to ground beef from HelloFresh meal kits.
A public alert from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) first reported the outbreak last weekend, but the alert did not provide any details of the patient.
Neither FSIS nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported where the implicated meal kits were distributed. Outbreak patients live in Washington, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Maryland and New Jersey.
FSIS reports that a recall is not being initiated because the suspect soil is believed to no longer be sold in meal kits.
State and local health officials interviewed six of the seven patients, and all six reported eating ground beef from HelloFresh meal kits before becoming ill.
Officials are investigating to determine if the ground beef was sold elsewhere. There is concern that consumers may have some of the HelloFresh ground beef in their freezers.
Consumers can use the following information to determine if ground beef is implicated:
- 10 oz. The vacuum-sealed plastic packages were distributed in a variety of HelloFresh meal kits. The beef was labeled “85% LEAN/15% FAT GROUND BEEF.”
- Packages have “EST.46841” inside the USDA mark of inspection and “EST#46841 L1 22 155” or “EST#46841 L5 22 155” on the side of the package.
Of the seven patients in the outbreak, six were so sick that they had to be hospitalized. Patients are between 17 and 69 years of age. The dates of onset of the disease range from June 8 to August 17.
The CDC announcement says more people are likely to be sick because some may not have sought medical treatment. Additionally, paperwork and lab tests for others may not yet be complete, meaning the CDC has been unable to add some patients to its outbreak count.
Public health researchers are using the PulseNet to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. CDC PulseNet manages a national database of DNA fingerprinting of bacteria that cause foodborne illness.
About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated ground meats and has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctor of their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose infections, which can mimic other diseases.
Symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others may develop serious or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a life-threatening complication of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruising or bleeding, and paleness.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some are permanently injured or die. This condition can occur in people of any age, but is more common in children under the age of five due to their immature immune systems, older adults due to impaired immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems, such as cancer patients.
People experiencing symptoms of HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately. People with HUS are likely to be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems, such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurological problems.
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