Public health officials urge consumers to check for yogurt linked to outbreak

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Washington State public health officials today announced a likely link between PCC Community Market brand organic yogurt and an E. Coli outbreak that is hitting children hard. The yogurt is produced by Pure Eire Dairy.

“The outbreak now includes 11 confirmed cases, including six children under the age of 10, infected with bacteria that have been genetically linked. Counties with cases include Benton (1), King (8), Snohomish (1) and Walla Walla (1). Seven people have been hospitalized. Three people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication,” according to a statement this morning from the Washington Department of Health.

Pure Eire Dairy recalled all of its organic PCC yogurt Friday, May 14, after outbreak patients reported eating it before becoming sick. All flavors and best-by dates of the 8-ounce and 16-ounce yogurt sold under the PCC brand has been recalled.

The company and public health officials are urging consumers to check their homes for the yogurt. Anyone who has the yogurt on hand should not eat it and should throw it away.

The following PCC deli items also contain PCC organic grass-fed yogurt:

• Yogurt (salad bar)

• Butter Chicken (hot bar and to-go casseroles)

• Spicy Yellow Curry Chicken (hot bar and to-go casseroles)

• Tzatziki Sauce (grain bowl bar, to-go spreads)

• Sticky Toffee Pudding (refrigerated desserts)

The state health department is coordinating with local health jurisdictions to identify cases related to the outbreak using genetic testing of the bacteria and investigating possible causes. In this type of investigation, public health staff interview patients, look for commonalities and work with local and federal partners to trace back foods that may have caused the illness.

About E. coli infections

Anyone who has eaten any of the implicated products and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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