14 confirmed ill in E. coli O157:H7 Lebanon bologna outbreak

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported last night that 14 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli serotype O157:H7 have been reported from Maryland (3 cases), New Jersey (2 cases), North Carolina (1 case), Ohio (2 cases) and Pennsylvania (6 cases).

Reported dates of illness onset range from January 10, 2011 to February 15, 2011. Ill persons range in age from 1 to 70 years, with a median age of 13.5 years.

Seventy-nine percent are male. Among 13 ill persons for whom information is known, 3 or 23%, reported being hospitalized, and none have reported hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is associated with E. coli O157:H7 infections. No deaths have been reported.

Collaborative investigative efforts of local, state, federal public health and regulatory agencies have associated this outbreak with eating Lebanon bologna. Lebanon bologna is a fermented, semi-dry sausage. This beef product has an appearance similar to salami. In an epidemiologic study conducted during March 15-18, a total of 13 ill persons answered questions about foods consumed during the days before becoming ill, and investigators compared their responses to those of 21 persons of similar age previously reported to state health departments with other illnesses ("controls"). Ill persons (69%) were significantly more likely than controls (0%) to report eating Lebanon bologna. Additionally, four ill persons have been identified who purchased Seltzer Brand Lebanon bologna at four different grocery store locations in three states before becoming ill.

Palmyra Bologna Company, of Palmyra, PA, is recalling approximately 23,000 pounds of Lebanon bologna products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. Consumers are advised to review the USDA’s FSIS Recall Press Release for a list of recalled products and images of the product.