With the current outbreak of E-coli with cheese, an uncommon complication may occur when the E-coli infection enters the digestive tract. Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome or HUS, occurs after the E-coli infection from contaminated meats, dairy products or juice, enter the blood stream and destroys healthy red blood cells. More common in children, the toxins destroy the red blood cells that can cause acute kidney failure in children and older adults. With children, HUS develops after several days of bloody diarrhea due to E-coli infection.
Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, dehydration, nose or mouth bleeds, bloody urine, weakness and swelling of the face, hands, feet or body. A health care provider needs to perform a physical exam to check for liver or spleen swelling and any neurological changes. Testing includes a blood sample to see if the red blood cells are damaged causing anemia and low platelet count (thrombocytopenia). Lab tests also examine any blood and protein in the urine. A stool culture may also be taken to test for a certain type of -. coli bacteria. If a child does not urinate for more than 12 hours, seek emergency care immediately.
Treatment of HUS includes a transfusion of red blood cells and/or a transfusion of platelets, dialysis if kidney failure, and medications such as corticosteroids. HUS can be severe and may cause death if not treated. Full recovery in children is seen if HUS is treated appropriately and immediately. Prevention of E-coli includes washing and cooking foods and avoiding unclean drinking or swimming water, not leaving raw meat on counters, thoroughly cook ground beef, avoid unpasteurized milk, juice or cider, and washing your hands frequently.
Consumers who have any of the cheese identified by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should not eat it and return the cheese to the place of purchase or dispose of it in a plastic bag in a sealed trash can away from animals and people. For more information, the FDA news release is located at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm232748.htm.
National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse:
E-Medicine: Medscape: http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/779218-overview
Medline Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000510.htm
Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hemolytic-uremic-syndrome/DS00876
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/ncphi/disss/nndss/casedef/hemolyticcurrent.htm