Two of those hospitalized have developed a type of kidney failure — hemolytic uremic syndrome — known to be associated with this particular type of bacteria, E. coli O157:H7.
The bacteria produces a toxin that causes symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps, typically within several days of swallowing the bug. Usually, this is resolved within a week, but sometimes it can get worse and last longer.
Maryland health officials are waiting to see whether E. coli found in an unopened package of a Ready Pac brand chicken Caesar salad in one patient’s home is genetically related to the bacteria causing the outbreak. While patients in Maryland report having eaten this particular brand, those in other states have not. The CDC recommends that people not eat or sell this particular product with a “Best By” date of October 31.
A statement Wednesday from Bonduelle Fresh Americas said the salad being investigated is Ready Pac Foods Bistro Chicken Raised Without Antibiotics Caesar Salad 2/6.25oz, lot no. 255406963, UPC# 7774527249. It was sold only at Sam’s Club, the company said.
“We continue to work with all regulatory agencies to trace the origin of this contamination as quickly as possible to reduce potential impacts to consumers,” the company said in its statement, adding that it tests all of its leafy greens and did not have any positive test results for E. coli O157:H7 during the timeframe.
The CDC is still investigating to see whether other products may be connected to the outbreak.