The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 70,000 Americans get sick with E.coli-caused infection each year, and about 60 of them die as a result. For example, in 2006, three people died and 199 became ill after consuming Natural Selection Foods spinach tainted with the dangerous E.coli O157: H7 bacteria. Later the same year, eight people suffered kidney failure and 71 were sickened after eating Taco Bell tacos contaminated with the same bacteria.
The most common causes of E.coli infection are consumption of undercooked meat products; raw milk and juice; and contaminated vegetables, sprouts and fruit. In some cases the cause of E.coli-related sickness is negligence on the part of the company that processed or served the food. Food companies have a responsibility to their customers to protect them from bacterial infection and ensure that the highest quality food processing techniques are used. If these companies do not take the proper steps to protect their customers from E.coli or other food toxins and their customers become ill, then those affected may be entitled to compensation. For instance, Jack in the Box paid more than $15 million to settle its E.coli lawsuit with a woman after her illness was linked to contaminated meat served by the restaurant. Another company, BJ Wholesale Club, reportedly paid $11 million to the parents of a 6-year-old girl who nearly died after consuming E.coli-contaminated ground beef distributed by the company.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be a victim of a foodborne E.coli infection, contact the law offices of Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, at (844) 794-7402 to learn more about your legal rights and possible compensation.
E. coli: Symptoms and Complications
The proper name of the E.coli bacteria that damages the human intestine, causes severe diarrhea and can lead to kidney failure and death is E.coli O157:H7. This rare form of the bacteria belongs to a large E.coli group, most of whose other forms are completely harmless, and even beneficial, for digestion and vitamin absorption.
The telltale signs that a person has contracted the dangerous form of E.coli bacteria are sudden, severe abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea. The infected person may also experience mild fever, nausea and/or vomiting. In most cases, E.coli patients recover without specific treatment in 5-10 days. To help the recovery, the infected person should stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. It is also important to avoid anti-diarrheal medicines, as they can interfere with the body’s natural cleansing processes.
While most E.coli O157:H7 victims do not suffer long-term consequences, about 5-10 percent of those affected develop serious complications, the most common of which is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a life-threatening condition that can lead to kidney failure. The most notable signs of HUS are decreased frequency of urination and loss of pink color in cheeks and lower eyelids. Since antibiotics increase the risk of HUS, people infected with E.coli should avoid these drugs. Other possible complications include high blood pressure, blindness and/or paralysis.
E.coli: Legal Recourse
If you experience symptoms associated with an E.coli-caused infection, you should contact your physician and notify the local health department. In addition, it is important that your doctor take a stool sample for analysis, as this is the only way to definitively diagnose E.coli. Precise diagnosis is vital because it helps map E.coli outbreaks and identify the source of contamination. In certain cases, the company making and/or distributing the product causing infection can be held liable for any associated injury or death due to its failure to properly inform customers about the health risks.
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with E. coli O157: H7, you could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, emotional distress and other damages. Contact the experienced food poisoning lawyers at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis & Overholtz, at (844) 794-7402 to learn more about your legal rights and possible compensation.