E. coli O121 in flour: One bite of cookie dough left Spokane teen fighting for life

Alyssa Donovan of KXLY reports that Sydney Rypien was a healthy Spokane teenager and a three-sport athlete. Then she took a bite of raw cookie dough and ended up in the hospital soon afterward fighting for her life.

Sydney Rypien.e.coli.O121Rypien, 17, was baking cookies back in February when she took a bite of raw cookie dough.

“They say it’s just one bite. Just one tiny bite,” Rypien said.

A week after she ate the dough the teen had such bad cramps she could hardly stand.

“They ran a couple tests and within a day they knew it was E. coli,” she said.

She spent a week at Sacred Heart Medical Center where doctors told her if it weren’t for her athletic build this illness likely would’ve killed her.

“I was shedding like stomach lining, yeah it was bad. I lost a lot of weight in a week that was an unhealthy amount of weight to lose,” Rypien said.

Instead she is slowly recovering but it could be months before she fully recovers.

“I still don’t feel normal,” Rypien said.

This week Rypien learned how she contracted the deadly strain of E. coli. Health officials have tied Rypien’s E. coli and more than 30 others nationwide to General Mills flour. Today, 10 million pounds of flour have been pulled from the shelves. Rypien says a handful of the people sickened were young girls right around her age.

Missing more than 3 months of school the high school junior is still catching up.

“I’m doing fine and my teachers are really understanding so they are giving me a little leeway with that too and I’m doing my work. I’m cramming it out as much as I can,” she said.

Outside the classroom everyday tasks are harder now than they’ve ever been.

“Everything that was easy for me to do like volleyball or sports or activities or going out and hanging out with friends or visiting grandparents or family, it’s harder to do, my energy is just drained,” she said.

The effects of the illness could last up to a year but she’s grateful the recall will stop others from feeling the pain she is still dealing with.

“This is by far the worst pain I have been in in my entire life.”

Rypien says as she has recovered she’s had to be very careful about what she eats. She plans to continue eating healthier so that she never has to feel anything like that excruciating pain again. She also hopes this helps educate people that E. coli is not your typical foodborne illness. Its more dangerous, more painful and the effects can be long term.