In the press release, the Maine CDC stated that an infected worker at Morse’s Sauerkraut handled deli food while infectious from April 1 through May 13. They state that people who purchased food from the deli in this E. coli Maine Deli exposure timeframe should watch for symptoms of infection and contact their health care provider right to be tested if they expect that they have been exposed. They further recommend throwing out any food purchased from the deli between those dates due to potential contamination.
Infections start when you swallow STEC—in other words, when you get tiny (usually invisible) amounts of human or animal feces in your mouth. The most common symptoms of Shiga Toxin producing E. coli (STEC), include severe diarrhea, sometimes bloody, and stomach cramps. Some people may vomit or have a fever, but this is less common. Others may not look or feel sick at all. Symptoms usually begin 1-10 days after swallowing the bacteria. Most healthy people get better within 5–7 days.
However, in some people, particularly children under 5 years of age, women, and the elderly, the infection can cause a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). A condition that can occur when the small blood vessels in your kidneys become damaged and inflamed, HUS can cause clots to form in the vessels. The clots clog the filtering system in the kidneys and lead to kidney failure, which could be life-threatening. Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working and they may develop other serious problems. Most persons with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some may suffer permanent damage or even die.
Exposures that result in illness include consumption of contaminated food, consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk, consumption of water that has not been disinfected, contact with cattle, or contact with the feces of infected people. Some foods are considered to carry such a high risk of infection that health officials recommend that people avoid them completely. These foods include unpasteurized (raw) milk, unpasteurized apple cider, and soft cheeses made from raw milk. Sometimes the contact is pretty obvious (working with cows at a dairy or changing diapers, for example), but sometimes it is not (like eating an undercooked hamburger or a contaminated piece of lettuce). People have gotten infected by swallowing lake water while swimming, touching the environment in petting zoos and other animal exhibits, and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet.
You can prevent an STEC infection!
By following some simple steps, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from an STEC infection like the one from the Maine deli. The CDC set forth these guidelines on their website:
- Know your chances of getting food poisoning. People with higher chances for foodborne illness are pregnant women, newborns, children, older adults, and those with weak immune systems, such as people with cancer, diabetes, or HIV/AIDS.
- Practice proper hygiene, especially good handwashing.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing or eating food.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
- Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing and feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler, before touching an infant or toddler’s mouth, and before touching pacifiers or other things that go into an infant or toddler’s mouth.
- Keep all objects that enter infants’ and toddlers’ mouths (such as pacifiers and teethers) clean.
- If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol (check the product label to be sure). These alcohol-based products can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in some situations, but they are not a substitute for washing with soap and running water.
- Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says the contents have already been washed.
Cook meats thoroughly:
- To kill harmful germs, cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145°F (62.6˚C) and allow to rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.
- Cook ground beef and pork to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F (70˚C).
- Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe internal temperature because you can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at its color.
- Don’t cause cross-contamination in food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
- Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
- Don’t swallow water when swimming and when playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard “kiddie” pools.
As of yet, no information has been released as far as whether or not there have been any illnesses as a result of the E. coli Maine Deli exposure. The current status of the contagious employee has not been released either. We can only hope that he or she is on the mend and that none of the patrons have experienced any serious illness as a result. No vaccine or medication can protect you from E. coli-based illness. Additionally, it is not recommended to use antibiotics to treat the infection as they increase the risk of HUS. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms, please contact your healthcare provider right away.
How The Lange Law Firm Can Help
Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water. When corporations cause E. coli food poisoning outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable. The Lange Law Firm is one of the only law firms in the nation focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits.
If you or your child is sick with E. coli, and you are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help. We want you to know that an E coli Lawyer at the Lange Law Firm, PLLC is currently investigating this matter and offering free legal consultations.
Our lawyer, Jory Lange became a lawyer to help make our communities and families safer. Anyone who was infected with E. coli may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. To learn more about the this E. coli Maine Deli or making an E coli food poisoning claim, please contact the Lange Law Firm, PLLC by phone or contact us online.
By: Michelle Galadik