37 Reported Illnesses in 4 States Associated with Wendy’s Restaurant
An E. coli outbreak with 37 reported illnesses and 10 hospitalizations has been correlated to the national fast food chain Wendy’s restaurant. Illnesses have been reported from Indiana (1), Michigan (15), Pennsylvania (2), and Ohio (19) with symptoms beginning on July 26, 2022 and continuing through August 8, 2022. Of the ten people hospitalized, 3 Michigan residents are reported to have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially life-threatening type of kidney failure.
Although a specific food item has not been verified as the source of the outbreak, the majority of those with infections reported eating a Wendy’s item with romaine lettuce. Of the 26 people that were questioned, 22 of them (86%) revealed they had consumed Wendy’s in the week preceding the onset of their symptoms. While a wide range of menu options were reported, the majority reported consuming a product with romaine lettuce. To potentially prevent further illnesses, Wendy’s has temporarily removed the romaine lettuce from sandwiches in that area. The CDC is currently investigating all ingredients to verify the source of the outbreak and determine if other ingredients are potentially contaminated. Wendy’s does not use the romaine lettuce in question for their salads, and the CDC is working to determine if the same romaine lettuce is being sold or consumed anywhere else. At this moment, the CDC does not recommend that consumers avoid eating at a Wendy’s or for them to avoid consuming romaine lettuce.
E. coli bacteria are found abundantly in the human intestinal track and are generally harmless; however, a type of E. coli bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) produces a toxin harmful to the human body. According to the CDC, STEC infection symptoms broadly consist of vomiting, diarrhea which can be bloody, severe stomach cramps, and a low grade fever. Symptoms of a STEC infection generally emerge 3 to 4 days after ingesting the bacteria and customarily resolve within 5 to 7 days without necessitating treatment, though some STEC infections can lead to further complications, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The CDC states that HUS is a rare but severe and potentially life-threatening complication of a STEC infection which typically develops seven days after symptoms of a STEC infection begins and requires hospitalization due to potential kidney failure and other complications. Symptoms of HUS include exhaustion, loss of color in lower eyelids and cheeks, and a decrease of urination.
If a consumer believes he or she is currently suffering from a E. coli infection, the CDC encourages him or her to seek medical attention, report symptoms to local and state health agencies, and keep a record foods consumed in the last week. It is advised that consumers who have been experiencing diarrhea or bloody diarrhea with a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit for more 3 days, or if they are vomiting so profusely that they cannot keep liquids down and have decreased urination, to seek medical attention immediately.