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December 4, 2007: E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Sickens 19 In N.J.

Eleven of the victims were reported to have eaten at a Taco Bell restaurant located in South Plainfield, NJ. The restaurant has voluntarily closed its doors, while the investigation continues.

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The Middlesex County Public Health Department (MCPHD) website reports a total number of 19 cases of E. coli infection to date. Seven victims of the outbreak in central New Jersey remained hospitalized, as public health officials worked to discover how and where they had become infected. Two of the patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious condition which affects the kidneys.

MCPHD Director David Papi called the outbreak significant. Papi also reported that the restaurant did not show any significant health code violations and that tests were being performed on stool samples taken from available restaurant employees.

Although most strains of E. coli are harmless and can be found in the intestinal tract of healthy humans and animals, E. coli O157:H7 produces a powerful toxin that can cause severe illness. While healthy adults usually recover, young children and the elderly are vulnerable to kidney damage, and in these populations infection can sometimes result in death.

Symptoms of E. coli infection may include diarrhea (often bloody) and abdominal cramps. Symptoms may appear anywhere from one day to one week following exposure.

If you think that you are experiencing symptoms related to E. coli infection, you should contact your health care provider or visit your local hospital emergency room.

To learn more about The Law Firm of Eric Weinberg, please see NJ Food Poisoning Lawyer

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