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You’ve heard of E. coli, but have you ever heard of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)? HUS is a secondary infection related to E. coli that can be contracted from contaminated and unsafe foods. If you or your child has suffered from HUS as a result of poor food storage, handling, and preparation, you may be entitled to legal compensation.

OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers know just how much heartache a foodborne illness can inflict on a family, and we are committed to getting the justice our clients deserve through compassionate legal guidance and fierce courtroom advocacy. To schedule your free consultation, call us today at (888) 828-7087.a

What Is HUS?

First coined in 1955, it was discovered to be secondary to E. coli infections a few decades later in 1983. Nowadays, HUS is known to trigger red blood cell destruction, damage to the lining of blood vessel walls, and acute kidney failure in babies and young children. Originally a death sentence upon its discovery in the fifties, the mortality rate has dwindled dramatically to an average of 4% in the 1990s. But HUS remains a harrowing ordeal for anyone afflicted with it.

What Triggers HUS

The onset of HUS usually happens after the digestive tract is infected with E. coli. This particular strain of E. coli is often found in undercooked meat, making it the leading cause of food poisoning outbreaks at restaurants. Although it’s most prevalent in babies and young children, certain adults are more at risk of contracting it, too, like pregnant women, women who have recently given birth, women who suffer from birth-related problems, and women on birth control pills.

How HUS Affects the Body

Kidneys can suffer in two ways as a result of HUS. First, the immune response to the infection can directly damage kidney cells. Second, the buildup of platelets or red blood cells can block the kidney’s filtering system, creating a buildup of waste in the body, as the kidneys can no longer efficiently filter the waste products in the body.

These kidney problems can become pretty serious if left untreated; heart problems, dangerously high blood pressure, kidney failure, and even stroke are all potential concerns one could face if HUS is not promptly treated. In fact, HUS is the main culprit behind acute kidney failure in children younger than five years old. Thankfully, prompt treatment of HUS will usually lead to a recovery, so the condition is treatable.

Symptoms of HUS

Since babies and small children can’t communicate their symptoms as effectively as adults, you’ll have to keep a lookout for the following symptoms:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • Swollen face or limbs
  • Pale skin
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruises
  • Pale skin
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Confusion

Initial symptoms will be more gastrointestinal-related, since the site of the infection is usually in the digestive tract. As HUS progresses, the damage will cause red blood cells to break down, blood clots to form, and kidney damage.

If your child has been experiencing bloody diarrhea or several days of diarrhea accompanied by swelling, fatigue, unexplained bruises, unusual bleeding, and/or lower-than-average urine output, consult a doctor immediately.

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

You will have to give an account of your child’s symptoms and medical history to your child’s pediatrician, and they will order a blood sample to see if your child’s red blood cells are misshapen, a key sign of red blood cell damage triggered by HUS.

As for treatment of the disease, it’s mainly related to alleviating symptoms and preventing recurring problems in the future. Children may require an intravenous blood transfusion, or even regular dialysis treatments to clean the blood in more serious cases.

If a child sustains serious enough kidney damage, they may require long-term dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant to continue functioning somewhat normally. Research suggests that cutting down on protein in your child’s diet in tandem with ACE inhibitor medicine can help delay or even outright prevent permanent kidney failure.

Common sense can help you avoid these problems altogether; wash and cook foods adequately (especially red meat), avoid unpasteurized milk, and steer clear of dirty swimming areas.

The Most Difficult Cases

Unfortunately, not everyone is lucky enough to recover from HUS totally unscathed.

Some may experience end-stage renal disease (ESRD) or even die. What’s more, kidney problems are very expensive to treat, so medical bills rack up quickly. ESRD is when the kidneys stop functioning completely, meaning they can no longer remove waste from the blood, flush waste products out from the body, and regulate other crucial bodily functions.

Usually, ESRD is diagnosed when kidneys can only function at 10% or less of their normal capacity. When patients reach this point, they have no choice but to start receiving regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant. If your child dies as a result of complications from HUS, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the restaurant or company responsible for the E. coli infection.

Contact a HUS Attorney for Help Today

We understand the pain and grief families experience when dealing with the aftermath of an HUS diagnosis. But our team of seasoned, empathetic food safety lawyers are here to help. Our legal know-how and courtroom experience has helped get compensation for thousands of clients, and we’d love for you to be next. Call us at (888) 828-7087 today to learn more about how we can best serve you.