Central New Jersey was the focus of attention following an E. coli outbreak. In the last fortnight, at least 22 people reported sick with abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea. They were diagnosed with E coli infection.
The Taco Bell restaurants, operated by Yum Brands Inc in New Jersey have been incriminated as the most likely source of infection. Most of the sick people reported that they had eaten from one of the three Taco Bell Restaurants in New Jersey between November 17th and 28th. Nine persons had eaten from the Taco Bell restaurant in South Plainfield, which has been shut down since last Thursday. A health inspection, conducted there has not proven any irregularities in food handling and standard food code.
Two of the patients are reported to be critically ill, suffering from a serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is a sudden onset illness that can result in kidney failure, following infection with certain strains of Escherichia coli bacterium. People who have come down with symptoms of food poisoning range from 23 years to 1 year olds.
The president of Taco Bell Corp. Greg Creed has assured that the food chain is taking up every precaution to sanitize the restaurants.
E. Coli strain 0157:H7, an intestinal bacterium can cause infection after consumption of meat that is not cooked well, or by eating tainted spinach or sprouts. The bacteria can present in the fecal matter of an infected person can be passed on, if hands are not washed sufficiently after ablutions, and before preparing food. It causes severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, kidney failure, and fever. Experts opine that symptoms can occur 2-8 days from the day of coming in contact with source of infection.