A recent E.Coli outbreak that caused 17 illnesses in seven states likely got its start at Panera Bread locations in New Jersey, according to state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of early April 2018, there were eight reported cases of E.Coli poisoning connected with Panera Bread locations in central New Jersey. Additional cases linked to this outbreak were reported in Ohio, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Missouri.
In total, the 17 reported illnesses resulted in six hospitalizations. The victims are primarily female and between the ages of 12 and 84. The illnesses reported so far occurred in March 2018. Like many other types of food poisoning, E.Coli is typically not harmful to adults with healthy immune systems, but can cause victims to suffer unpleasant symptoms.
Foods Linked to E.Coli
E.Coli is transmitted through human and animal feces, which can infect food through soil or contaminated water. Foods that can easily become contaminated with E.Coli include:
- Unpasteurized milk, also known as “raw” milk;
- Ground beef; and
- Fresh produce.
The investigation of the Panera-linked outbreak has not yet linked it to any specific food product. Although these foods are commonly associated with E.Coli, the bacteria can infect many more types of food. It can be transmitted through water and food handlers’ hands.
Symptoms of E.Coli Poisoning
E.Coli poisoning symptoms include:
- Abdominal pain; and
Symptoms usually appear within a few days of consuming contaminated food or water, but they can appear as soon as a day later or up to a week later. There are numerous strains of E.Coli, some of which do not cause illness at all. Others, like O157:H7 cause serious illness – this particular strain damages the lining of the small intestine, which can cause the victim to experience bloody diarrhea. This is the strain linked to the outbreak discussed above.
Tracking Food Poisoning Outbreaks Accurately and Responsibly
Knowing that multiple food poisoning victims ate food from a specific retailer can help health officials track the outbreak, but it is important to approach this information carefully to avoid making assumptions that can potentially delay actual progress with an investigation. As a New Jersey epidemiologist pointed out with the E.Coli outbreak, the victims could also have shopped at the same supermarkets or ate at other local food retailers and contracted the E.Coli bacteria somewhere other than Panera Bread.
Work with an Experienced Chicago Food Poisoning Lawyer
E.Coli poisoning can have severe, unpleasant symptoms. If you or your child have suffered from this type of illness after eating at a restaurant or purchasing food from another type of retailer, contact our team of experienced food poisoning lawyers at Newland & Newland, LLP today to set up your initial consultation with us to discuss your case and your legal options for pursuing compensation for your damages further. We serve clients in the Arlington Heights, Palatine, Rolling Meadows, Libertyville, Mundelein, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Elk Grove, and Itasca areas.
(image courtesy of Daria Nepria)