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My Children are Sick from E. coli; What should I do?

I have had law clients whose children get sick from bacterial infections such as E. coli. They call a lawyer because they wonder if someone’s negligence has made their kids sick.
There have been a number of recent E. coli outbreaks:

  • Nearly 20 children came down with E. coli after attending the livestock exhibition at the National Western Stock Show in Denver (2009). When some of those children returned to daycare centers, other children may also have been infected.
  • More than 200 people at an Oklahoman restaurant may have been infected when they ate chicken from a farm where chicken litter seeped into the water supply (2007).
  • Dozens of people in the eastern U.S. became infected when they ate frozen ground beef patties contaminated by E. coli bacteria (2007).
  • A California spinach processor is suspected to have infected at least 100 people because of spinach contaminated by E. coli (2006).
  • An Illinois spinach processor also was responsible for infecting consumers who purchased its spinach from supermarkets (2006).
  • Several young children came down with E. coli after swimming in a public pool (2007).

Is there a common thread in these E. coli outbreaks?
E. coli is a bacteria found in water or food tainted by human or animal feces. While it is usually harmless (recovery time within one week), a serious infection can lead to kidney or blood disorders, and even death. Symptoms include stomach cramps/pain, vomiting and diarrhea (often with blood).
Foods that can carry E. coli include:

  • Uncooked or even undercooked ground beef.
  • Vegetables grown in cow manure or washed in water contaminated by animal fertilizer.
  • Unpasteurized juice or milk (pasteurization is a process that uses heat to kill germs).

What can I do to protect my children and myself against E. coli?
You and your children can protect against E. coli bacteria by:

  • Tell your children to wash their hands frequently with soap and hot water, especially after going to the bathroom.
  • Wash your own hands frequently with soap and hot water particularly after going to the bathroom or changing your child’s diapers.
  • When you go to a restaurant, make sure your meat, especially hamburger, is well-cooked. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends heating the hamburger to at least 160¬∫ F.
  • When cooking, wash your hands with soap and hot water. Clean your cooking utensils after they touch raw meat. If you put raw meat on the counter, clean it with soap and hot water.
  • Clean eating surfaces after contact with raw meat.
  • Only use pasteurized milk and juices.
  • When your children swim in a public pool, make sure the pool does not allow toddlers in diapers. Tell your children not to swallow water when swimming.
  • Make sure your children wash their hands thoroughly after any contact with animals or animal environments.
  • When traveling to a country without a safe water supply, only drink bottled water. Don’t drink the tap water. Also avoid raw fruits until you have thoroughly cleaned them and peeled the skin.

What do I do if I or a family member becomes infected with E. coli?
An infection could be due to someone else’s lack of care. This could be, for example, a food manufacturer, a zoo, a restaurant, or the operator of a local swimming pool or water park. To protect your rights, and to make sure others aren’t infected, you need to have the situation investigated both by public health officials and by someone looking out for your legal rights. They can work together to make sure the situation is corrected.
If you or a member of your family have been infected with a serious bacterial infection such as E. coli, contact our firm. We can help you find out whether this infection was caused by someone else’s carelessness or negligence. For a free consultation contact The Gilbert Law Group, P.C., P.C.. “E. coli strikes 19 Colorado kids, may be linked to Stock Show” 02/06/2009 “Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157 Infections Linked to Topp’s Brand
Ground Beef Patties” 10/26/2007 “Oklahoma E. coli Outbreak Toll Reaches 231, Lawsuits Expected” 09/11/08 “Illness From The Swimming Pool?” 00/00/2007 “E. coli Spinach Scare Increases to 21 States” 00/00/2006

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