E. coli


The Yuck Factor: CDC Says Pools Are Full Of Poop

Finally, after a week of wool socks and extra blankets, today is feeling like a groovy summer day. But don’t get too excited yet. With summer comes pools, and for many of us, public pools that are, according to a new report from the CDC, chock full of poop.



In the inimitably dry language of the nation’s public health authorities: “A study of public pools done during last summer’s swim season found that feces are frequently introduced into pool water by swimmers.”

Moreover, the study found:

“Fifty-eight percent of the pool filter samples tested were positive for E. coli, bacteria normally found in the human gut and feces. The E. coli is a marker for fecal contamination. Finding a high percentage of E. coli-positive filters indicates swimmers frequently contaminate pool water when they have a fecal incident in the water or when feces rinse off of their bodies because they do not shower thoroughly before getting into the water.”

(Be honest, does anyone really shower before getting into the pool? Maybe it’s time to start.)

So, what’s a swimmer to do?

The CDC offers these tips: Continue reading

Ten Tons Of Hamburger Recalled In France, As Children Are Hospitalized With E. Coli

Defrosted hamburger appears to be the latest source of E. coli infections

Food poisoning lawyer Bill Marler blogs about the latest grim development on the E. coli front:

Seven children have been hospitalized in France with E. coli infections after eating meat that manufacturer SEB said came from Germany, Belgium and Holland and slaughtered and processed in France. The children, the youngest of whom is 20 months old, had eaten defrosted hamburgers.

A spokesman for the Regional Health Agency (ARS) in Lille, northern France, where six of the children were hospitalized on Wednesday, said: ‘they are in a serious but not worrying state. Their lives are not at all in danger.’ A seventh child was taken to hospital on Thursday, authorities said.

The ‘Steak Country’ burgers were bought in French branches of German supermarket Lidl. SEB said it had recalled 10 tons of the burgers and Lidl said it had removed them from its shelves in France.

Health authorities said the infection was a rare strain of the E. coli bacteria and was not linked to the similar outbreak in Germany.

Six Facts About E. Coli From A Food Safety Litigator

The source of the E. coli outbreak is still unknown but authorities are warning against eating lettuce, sprouts, cucumbers and other salad ingredients from the region

The German E. coli outbreak has now killed at least 23 people and sickened more than 2,300 others — including one person from Massachusetts, who recently traveled to Hamburg, Germany and is confirmed as having a strain that matches the German type, according to the CDC.

Officially called “Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O104:H4” or “STEC O104:H4,” the current outbreak is scary because of its virulence: a large number of victims have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a.k.a., acute kidney failure.

U.S. public health and regulatory authorities say that so far, there’s no indication that any of the potential sources of the outbreak — raw sprouts, tomatoes, cucumbers and leafy salads from northern Germany — have been shipped here from Europe. Still, I decided to do an E. coli reality check with Bill Marler, a plaintiff’s lawyer based in Seattle, who specializes in food-borne illness cases. Marler made his name back in the early 1990s, winning a $15.6 million settlement on behalf of a little girl sickened by a Jack In The Box hamburger. Since then, he has been involved in every major E. coli case in the country. He’s got no formal scientific training, as far as I know, but the guy is pretty savvy about this little bacterium.

I asked Bill if this strain is unique. Here, condensed and edited, is what he said:

1. This Particular Strain Hasn’t Been Seen Before, But Others In The Family Have Been Around

In the U.S. the most widely seen strain is E coli O157:H7 — that’s the strain behind the so-called “Jack In The Box” outbreak, and the 2006 spinach outbreak. For a little background: there are billions of E. coli bacteria in your body at any given time, and most are benign. Only a handful cause human disease. In Europe, they’ve seen more of the non-0157 varieties than we see in the U.S. — possibly because they are more prevalent, possibly because they test more. Here in the U.S., however, there have been outbreaks involving this subfamily: In the 1990s milk in Montana was found to be tainted, as well as hamburger tested in 2009.

2. Not Likely A New Superbug

There is definitely cause for alarm here: the strain hasn’t been seen, the death toll is high and likely will grow higher and a lot of people are suffering from kidney failure (about 28 percent, Bill says). But, he says, “it shouldn’t come as a surprise to the government or industry.” These pathogens have been around before and “probably what’s happening now is not some new Superbug. It’s just a nasty, more virulent subspecies coming forward.” Continue reading