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An unnamed New Jersey restaurant chain has been linked to an outbreak of six E. coli illnesses, according to numerous news reports.

The New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that it is investigating the outbreak. The unnamed New Jersey restaurant chain has locations in three counties: Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren.

DOH spokesperson Donna Leusner said the department will submit the results of its investigation to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation. She said the process could take longer than a week.

New Jersey restaurant chain
might be outbreak source

New Jersey residents who have dined out recently and then developed symptoms of E. coli food poisoning (see below) should seek medical attention.  Food contaminated with E. coli often does not look or smell rotten, but it still can cause illness.

“It is still very early on in the investigation and it can be very difficult to determine where someone got sick, or pinpoint the source,” Leusner told Patch.com.

“The source or food product cannot be determined until state lab tests are done to tell if they match the various cases of illness and confirm testing with the CDC.”

New Jersey restaurant chain E. coli outbreak

An unnamed New Jersey restaurant chain has been linked to an outbreak of six E. coli illnesses. The New Jersey Department of Health is investigating.

New Jersey restaurant chain:
E. coli facts and figures

One of the most common causes of foodborne illness year in and year out is E. coli bacteria (Escherichia coli). E. coli are normally found in the intestines of mammals.

Most strains of E. coli are benign. However, some strains of E. coli can cause serious illness, primarily by the consumption of contaminated food.

Anyone can become infected, but people with the highest risk of becoming severely ill include the very young and the very old, as well as people with compromised immune systems.

E. coli symptoms
Symptoms of an E. coli illness are similar to those produced by other foodborne pathogens:
  • nausea and vomiting
  • severe abdominal cramping
  • diarrhea, which can be bloody
  • fever and fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • decreased urination.

Symptoms usually last from five to 10 days. Most people recover without treatment. Complications can arise, however, and produce severe consequences.

E. coli complications: HUS
As much as 10 percent of those infected with an E. coli illness develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can be life-threatening. The overwhelming majority of HUS cases involve children under the age of 5, and the disease is the leading cause of acute kidney failure (renal failure) for that age group.

HUS typically develops after a long bout with diarrhea. HUS damages red blood cells, and that can clog the kidney’s filtering system. If kidney failure results, a kidney transplant might be required.

HUS is fatal in 2 percent to 7 percent of cases, and those usually involve children. HUS victims who survive can suffer long-term consequences, including hypertension or impaired kidney function.

E. coli complications: TTP
Another complication of E. coli illness is a variation of HUS called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). This complication usually occurs in the elderly.

Elderly people develop more clotting problems, which can result in bruising. The clots can limit or block the flow of oxygen-rich blood to the body’s organs, such as the brain, kidneys, and heart. This can produce a higher fever and neurologic changes, in addition to kidney damage. Other serious health problems also can develop.

Until the 1980s, TTP was considered a fatal disease. Treatment with plasma exchange and infusion techniques, however, has reduced the mortality rate to about 10 percent.