Four people have tested positive for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) after eating at three Homegrown restaurants in King County: in Redmond, Kirkland, and at the Westlake Avenue location in Seattle.
All four people – three adults and one child – ate the chicken pesto sandwich between April 24 and April 26. The four victims all suffered abdominal cramps and diarrhea, and one of them reported experiencing bloody diarrhea.
Health investigators inspected the three Homegrown restaurants locations and identified potential risk factors, such as hand-washing violations at two locations and a too-cold holding temperature violation at one. All three Homegrown restaurants were required to complete a thorough cleaning and disinfection.
Investigators also were looking into the ingredients of the chicken pesto sandwich. Since the illnesses were reported, all Homegrown locations in King County have stopped selling the chicken pesto sandwich.
On May 25, investigators revisited the three restaurants to confirm that cleaning and disinfection were completed correctly. They also were investigating if any of the restaurant’s employees had suffered similar illnesses recently.
Health officials said there currently are no indications of E. coli at the restaurants.
Customers who have eaten at any of the Seattle-area’s eight Homegrown restaurants and who developed diarrhea within 10 days should consult their doctor to determine if testing is necessary.
Homegrown restaurants is a small West Coast chain known for its locally sourced, “sustainable sandwiches.” In addition to the eight restaurants in the Seattle area, there are two in the San Francisco Bay Area.
E. coli information
An E. coli infection usually occurs after the consumption of contaminated food. Many different types of food can be affected, such as:
- undercooked ground beef and other beef products
- unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheese
- raw fruits and vegetables
- sprouts and herbs.
It’s also possible to contract E. coli by ingesting water contaminated with animal feces, or by direct contact with farm animals or their environment. Ready-to-eat foods can also be contaminated with E. coli through contact with raw beef or raw beef juices in the kitchen.
Symptoms of an E. coli illness usually include:
- diarrhea (which often becomes bloody)
- abdominal cramps
- mild fever.
An E. coli illness typically lasts several days. Infected people can spread infection to others even after symptoms resolve.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
As much as 10 percent of people infected with an E. coli illness develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a particularly dangerous type of kidney failure that can be life-threatening.
The overwhelming majority of HUS cases involve children under the age of 5. HUS is the No. 1 cause of acute kidney failure for that age group.
HUS typically develops after a prolonged bout of E. coli-produced diarrhea. The disease damages red blood cells, and that can clog the kidney’s filtering system and result in kidney failure. In severe cases, a kidney transplant might be necessary to avoid death.
Romaine outbreak headlines
A multistate E. coli outbreak attributed to contaminated romaine lettuce was declared over by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as of May 21, but not before 172 people in 32 states had become ill. Seventy-five victims had been hospitalized; 20 of them had developed HUS; and one victim – a California resident – had died.