Six children have been hospitalized after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in La Crosse County, WI, according to the La Crosse County Health Department. The children are part of an outbreak of E. coli illnesses in the area in which 10 people have been sickened.
E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a dangerous bacteria contracted by eating contaminated food or water. It also can be caught through contact with fecal matter from infected persons or animals.
This outbreak is due to E. coli 0157, a particularly nasty form of the bacteria that can be harmful to the body’s organs, particularly the kidneys. E. coli 0157 is also called Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).
What is hemolytic uremic syndrome?
When a foodborne illness caused by E. coli bacteria persists and worsens, it can evolve into a disease called hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe complication that can be life-threatening. Although HUS can strike anyone, the great majority of cases involve children under the age of 5, and the disease is the leading cause of acute kidney failure in that age group.
HUS occurs in about 10 percent of E. coli cases, and develops after a long bout with diarrhea, five days or more. The disease damages red blood cells, which can clog the kidney’s filtering, thus resulting in kidney failure. In severe cases, a kidney transplant might be necessary.
What are the symptoms of HUS?
Children who develop HUS can show these symptoms:
- diarrhea, often loose and bloody
- abdominal pain
- pale skin
- unexplained bruises or bleeding
- decreased urination
What are the consequences of developing HUS?
Once HUS – which is estimated to affect 200 to 300 people in the United States annually – has been diagnosed, hospitalization is generally required. About 50 percent of patients require dialysis. Approximately 15 percent of those patients will experience long-term health issues.
Other organs, such as the heart or brain, also can be affected because of damage to blood vessels, although this is very rare. In addition to kidney failure, other life-threatening complications can include high blood pressure, heart problems, stroke, and coma.
Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by foodborne illnesses, and he has regained millions of dollars in compensation for those victims. If your child has become sick because of this outbreak, please call 612-337-6126, or complete the following: