E. coli Source in Boy Scout Outbreak Traced to S&S Foods, Recall IssuedAug 7, 2008 | Parker Waichman LLP
It seems that health authorities may have located the source of the E. coli outbreak that sickened 18 at the Goshen Boy Scout camp located in Virginia's Blue Ridge mountains. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has just released a report that S&S Foods LLC, of Azusa, California, is recalling approximately 154,000 pounds of frozen ground beef products. The USDA says S&S beef may be contaminated with the E. coli O157:H7 bacterium
E. coli strain O157:H7 is a particularly virulent strain that produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness—blood poisoning, cystitis, septicemia—and even death and is the leading cause of food and waterborne illness in the U.S. According to Center of Disease Control (CDC) estimates, there are about 73,000 reported cases of infection yearly with 2,100 hospitalizations and 61 deaths. It is estimated that for every laboratory-confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infection, another four-to-eight symptomatic cases are missed. And, now, emerging data confirms the negative health effects of E. coli can remain for months and years; can have long-term, lasting effects; and can appear months or years after the original illness.
Several thousand scouts, adult leaders, and staff began visiting the 4,000-acre Goshen Scout Reservation in Rockbridge County, Virginia last month. Now, at least 17 Boy Scouts and one adult have reported falling ill, including three scouts who attended the camp last week. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reports that nearly 70 people attending the camp complained of illnesses. Of those confirmed ill with E. coli O157:H7, there have been at least 10 hospitalizations. Six of those patients were treated and released and, of the four remaining, two had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS occurs when the toxin produced by the bacterium enters the bloodstream, according to Health Department epidemiologist, Christopher Novak. HUS can lead to kidney failure and can require dialysis. About 1,500 scouts and adult leaders and 200 staff were at the camp from July 20-26, and 1,310 scouts and leaders attended last week, according to the National Capital Area Council.
S&S Foods said it is recalling 30-pound cases containing one-pound bricks of ground beef, which was intended for institutional use and not direct retail sale. The USDA said it discovered the problem through a joint investigation by the FSIS and the Virginia Department of Health.
Meanwhile, the scout reservation has been shut down indefinitely and, according to a recent Associated Press report, public health officials who visited Goshen examined its food handling and storage practices and recommended changes, said Robert Hicks, director of the Office of Environmental Health Services.
Last year alone, over 22 million pounds of beef and vegetables were recalled due to E. coli outbreaks and, currently, there is a multi-state E coli outbreak that has been linked to Nebraska Beef supplied to Kroger Grocery, among others. This outbreak is possibly linked to an emerging outbreak reported yesterday in Massachusetts, where six people have been confirmed stricken with E. coli O157:H7.