E. coli Outbreak Shuts Down Hawaiian Restaurant

The state Department of Health in Hawaii just shut down Peppa’s II Korean Barbeque in Pawaa after an investigation there revealed that seven people fell in and four were hospitalized for <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/e_coli_escherichia_coli">E. coli infection, said the Star Tribune. Peppa’s business permit was suspended when Sanitation Branch investigators discovered violations with food handling, said the Star Tribune. The restaurant is located at 1240 S. King Street.

Of the seven who were sickened, four ate at Peppa’s, according to Janice Okubo, a Health Department spokeswoman; however, food samples from the restaurant did not reveal contamination with E. coli, said the Star Tribune. E. coli generally originates with contaminated food and beverages.

The state spokeswoman stated that management at Peppa’s II agreed to the temporary closure and is \working to correct its food handling violations, said the Star Tribune. Also, staff from Peppa’s II will be attending the Sanitation Branch Food Safety Certification Workshop, added the Star Tribune. The state Health Department has also advised physicians in the Oahu are to be on alert for cases of severe diarrhea and to test for a specific strain of E. coli, said the Star Tribune. The known cases were diagnosed between March 2 and 23; one person remains in serious condition.

The Star Tribune also wrote that Sekiya’s restaurant in Kapahulu was temporarily closed in February 2008 and, according to Okubo, that is the only known prior case involving a restaurant closing due to E. coli contamination in the state. In that outbreak, seven people developed E. coli infections.

E. coli are a group of bacteria found in animal intestines and feces and is normally found in the digestive tracts of cows. Ground beef and other meats can become contaminated with E. coli bacteria during the slaughtering process. E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. The very young, seniors, and persons with weak immune systems, for instance people undergoing chemotherapy or who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS are the most susceptible to food borne illness. While most people will recover from E. coli poisoning within seven-to-10 days, extreme cases can lead to kidney failure and death. Some people will require hospitalization, and even dialysis treatments or blood transfusions and E. coli may cause fatal blood poisoning, cystitis, deadly septicemia, and death.

While some strains are necessary for digestion; some are harmful, deadly, and toxin producing and part of a group of E. coli called Verocytotoxigenic E. coli, or VTECs, also known as Shiga-producing E. coli. Of particular concern is the virulent, sometimes deadly E. coli O157:H7 strain that is part of this group and is generally found to be the culprit in E. coli-related food-borne illness outbreak. The Hawaiian outbreak appears to be linked to the O157:H7 strain

Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps and watery diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), E. coli is one of the leading causes of food borne illness in the U.S. but estimates could be much higher, because many cases of E. coli poisoning are never reported.

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