Pull back the curtain; it’s only 7 people with a rare subtype of E. coli O157 in California, so it’s a ‘small cluster’

There’s seven people in California that have been barfing from a rare strain of E. coli O157:H7 as determined by PFGE subtyping.

Those folks may not like being referred to as a “small cluster” of illness while hanging out with the goddess of porcelain.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) identified six patients with illness onset dates between April 8 and June 18, 2010 and after further review, CDPH added another patient from February to the case count, bringing the count to seven.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) became aware of the problem on July 15, 2010, and eventually – early this morning, Aug, 6, 2010 – convinced Valley Meat Company, a Modesto, Calif. establishment to recall approximately one million pounds of frozen ground beef patties and bulk ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.

FSIS and the establishment are concerned that some product may still be frozen and in consumers’ freezers.

But not so concerned to issue a warning earlier. Who knew what when? Maybe it’s time to pull back the curtain on epidemiological investigations and when to go public with information that could prevent others from barfing.