SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. – Public health officials in Vermont are investigating a cluster of E. coli infections linked to undercooked beef served at a local hamburger restaurant.
The Vermont Dept. of Health has confirmed six cases of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, and three probable cases. The case patients include two-year-old Wyatt Rafus, who is being treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of E. coli O157:H7 infection that causes kidney failure.
Public health officials in Vermont said eight of the nine individuals ate at a Worthy Burger restaurant in August and September. State health inspectors found an unopened package of ground beef at the restaurant which tested positive for Shiga toxin. Officials believe undercooked burgers served at the restaurant led to the outbreak.
The Valley News reported that the US Dept. of Agriculture is conducting a traceback investigation of the contaminated beef, although federal officials said the beef was not necessarily the source of the illnesses. Lab tests on the unopened package of beef produced a strain of E. coli that was slightly different than the outbreak strain. Worthy Burger voluntarily closed for five days in September, but stated “mechanical issues” as the reason for the closure.