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Two children in Chittenden County, VT, were diagnosed with E. coli poisoning in September, according to news reports. One of the children, both of whom are under the age of 12, was hospitalized.
The Vermont Department of Health, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), investigated the illnesses and determined that the children had one thing in common: They both ate hamburgers at Bread & Butter Farm in Shelburne, VT, on Sept. 15.
The illnesses prompted Vermont Livestock Slaughter and Processing to issue a recall of the ground beef, which was supplied solely to Bread & Butter Farm. Meat with lot codes 072517BNB and 072417BNB and establishment number “EST. 9558” has been recalled by the processor for possible contamination.
“If people have (the ground beef), they should throw it out or take it back to the place of purchase,” Bradley Tompkins, the state’s foodborne disease epidemiologist, said recently. “It’s very possible that people have this in their freezer.”
What is E. coli?
One of the most common causes of food poisoning is produced by E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli). The bacteria normally are found in the intestines of all mammals, and most strains are benign. Some strains of E. coli, however, can cause serious illness, primarily by eating contaminated food.
Anyone can become infected by ingesting food contaminated with E. coli bacteria, but those with the highest risk of developing a severe complication – or hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can lead to kidney failure – include young children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of E. coli food poisoning are similar to those produced by other foodborne pathogens:
- diarrhea, which can be bloody
- severe abdominal cramping
- loss of appetite
- decreased urination.