E. coli enteritis is caused by the Escherichia coli bacteria invading the intestine and causing an inflammation. The bacteria are found worldwide, living in the intestines of infected humans and animals and transmitted by fecal matter. The bacteria can also be found in food, water, soil, and surfaces that have been contiminated.
The infection is spread by putting contaminated food, water, or objects into one’s mouth. Many cases of E. coli are contracted by handling raw meat improperly or consuming raw or undercooked meat and poultry. Fresh fruits and vegetables may also become contaminated. Apples used in the production of unpasteurized apple juice were the cause of a large E. coli outbreak in 1996, while spinach used in raw salads were the cause of an outbreak in 2006. Cases of E. coli can also be caused by person to person contact with an infected individual. This occurs most often in nursing homes, hospitals, and daycare centers.
Symptoms of E. coli food poisoning normally appear within 24 to 72 hours after an individual is infected with the bacteria. Typical symptoms include acute, severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, and vomiting. In severe cases, the diarrhea may be bloody. The symptoms normally last for 5 to 10 days.
E. coli food poisoning is generally mild in adults, but can be life-threatening in infants, children, and elderly individuals. Severe cases of the illness require hospitalization to avoid serious complications such as hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a condition characterized by the destruction of red blood cells, drastic decrease in platelets in the blood, and causing acute kidney failure. E.coli can also cause damage to the endothelia cells of the pancreas, kidneys, brain, and other organs reducing their ability to function.
Many cases of E. coli food poisoning resolve themselves without medical treatment in 1 to 3 days. Anti-diarrheal medications are not recommended as they can delay the elimination of the bacteria from the body. Medical attention may be needed if dehydration results from the patients vomiting or diarrhea. Dairy products should be avoided due to the temporary lactose intolerance that may occur. In severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed by the physician.
Experts estimate that close to 73,000 cases of E. coli food poisoning occurs in the United States every year. This results in over 2,000 hospitalizations and 61 deaths annually. The annual costs of E. coli infections is estimated to be close to $405 million dollars, including $370 for premature deaths, $30 million in medical care, and $5 million in lost wages. According the the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the outbreak E. coli food poisoning in the United States in 2006 involved 26 states, causing close to 200 people to become ill, 102 people were hospitalized, 31 people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and 3 people died.
The Information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical or legal advice. If you feel that you or someone you know has food poisoning, seek medical attention immediately by visiting your doctor of by dialing 911.
Do I have an E. coli Food Poisoning Lawsuit?
The Personal Injury Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus exclusively on the representation of plaintiffs in food poisoning lawsuits. We are handling individual and group outbreak litigation nationwide and currently accepting new food poisoning cases in all 50 states.
If you or a loved one have been the victim of food poisoning, you should contact us immediately. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries by filing a food poisoning lawsuit and we can help.