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Deadly E. Coli Cookie Dough Has Woman Near Death

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 5:06 PM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Foodborne Illness, Public Health, E. Coli, Nestle Cookie Dough

Nestle Toll House cookie dough has one woman near death from E. coli.

Hospitalized Woman Extremely Critical


IMAGE SOURCE: Washington Post. Web site/ Linda Rivera and her husband

Jokes were circulating last May about the number of people sickened from eating raw Toll House cookie dough. But there was nothing funny when 3.6 million packages were recalled found to have an E. coli 0157:H7 contamination, and 80 people in 31 states were sickened.

Among the worst is Linda Rivera, 57.

She has been hanging onto life in a Las Vegas hospital since May. The former high school teacher’s aide is not strong enough to sip liquid through a straw. She is being fed nutrients by IV.

Recently, she lost the ability to talk, reports the Washington Post.

Last June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked the E. coli contamination to Nestlé’s Danville, Virginia plant, which produces its refrigerated cookie dough.

E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria can cause a severe infection with life-threatening complications. One four-year-old in South Carolina is partially paralyzed and has suffered a stroke. Rivera developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) along with nine others.

Symptoms of HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids.

For Rivera, about a week after eating raw cookie dough, her kidneys shut down and she went into septic shock, reports the Post. Doctors had to remove part of her contaminated colon, then her gallbladder.

Then her liver stopped functioning. She has no underlying health problems, and at 57, is not at the vulnerable age for E. coli poisoning – the very young or the very old.

"Once these patients get into a downward spiral, it's hard to pinpoint why things go wrong," said Michael Gross, a kidney specialist who has treated Rivera. "The chances of her coming out of the hospital and getting into a normal life cycle are low."

William Marler, a food-borne illness attorney from Seattle is representing the family and 23 other cookie dough victims.

People just don't really understand how horrible food-borne illness is," said Marler. “They think food-borne illness is a tummy ache and diarrhea."

Rivera has not filed a lawsuit against Nestle, but three clients of Marler have.

E. coli

E. coli 0157 is not normally found in humans in their intestinal flora but it present in about one percent of healthy cattle. Most often transmission to humans comes from undercooked meat.

E. coli 0157 produces a toxin called Shiga toxin that is among a group that most often causes illness in people. About 73,000 Americans are hit with food-borne illnesses every year, killing about 61, according to federal statistics.

However for some reason 0157 is showing up in spinach and leafy greens. The cookie dough was the first food of its kind to have 0157 contamination.

This particular strain of the bacteria was not found in the plant or on the equipment but was found among the samples of cookie dough. Animal products, eggs, and margarine all go into raw cookie dough.

Even more strange is that the contaminated dough as a different genetic fingerprint from the strain that caused the national outbreak, reports the Washington Post. #

1 Comment

Posted by Bill Marler
Tuesday, September 01, 2009 7:53 PM EST

Thanks Jane.

Comments for this article are closed.

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