(Salt Lake City) – Utah public health officials are investigating a cluster of illness that may be associated with the consumption of chicken salad purchased at Costco. To date, cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported in seven states, including five cases in Utah.
The Utah cases range in age from 9 to 84, three are females and two are males. Two of the Utah cases were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Onset dates of Utah cases range from October 17, 2015 to October 30, 2015.
The Utah Department of Health is working with health partners, including the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Utah’s local health departments to investigate the illness. The UDAF assisted in the investigation by gathering product samples for testing and encouraged stores to remove the product from sale. Most of the cases, including four out of the five Utah cases, reported eating Costco chicken salad.
Although the chicken salad has not tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, there is a strong association between reported illness and eating the salad. Out of an abundance of caution, Costco removed the chicken salad from their Utah stores on Friday, November 20th. However, people who bought chicken salad may still have the product in their refrigerators.
Consumers with “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” – item number 37719 – purchased from Costco in Utah should not eat it or feed it to your pets. You should either return it to the Costco store where it was purchased or throw the product away.
Other states with confirmed E. coli cases linked to the chicken salad include Colorado, Montana and Washington.
Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 usually appear two to 10 days after eating contaminated food and include: stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea which may contain blood. If there is a fever, it is usually not high (less than 101°F). Most people recover within 5-7 days, but some cases can be severe. Approximately 5-10% of those diagnosed with E. coli O157:H7 infection develops a potentially life-threatening complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Some patients may appear to be improving before HUS develops. Signs that a person is developing HUS may include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired, and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. People with these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately.
If you have recently eaten Costco chicken salad and are currently experiencing these symptoms, consult your health care provider.
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Becky Ward, UDOH
Larry Lewis, UDAF