Washington State Department of Health officials said Saturday a multicounty outbreak of E. coli is likely tied to a PCC Community Markets yogurt brand made by Pure Eire Dairy.
On its Facebook page, the company, based in Othello, Adams County, said it was voluntarily recalling all of its yogurt products and halting yogurt production.
Officials are advising that anyone who purchased the brand throw it out.
People infected with the bacteria can experience diarrhea, stomach cramps and blood in their stool. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a health provider immediately, officials say.
The outbreak includes 11 confirmed cases so far, with eight in King County. Benton, Snohomish and Walla Walla counties each has confirmed one case. Health officials say six of the confirmed cases involve children under age 10.
Seven people have been hospitalized and three have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that affects blood and blood vessels and can result in kidney failure.
Officials say they are working with Pure Eire Dairy to identify and recall all products tainted with the bacteria.
Pure Eire Dairy did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. An official from PCC Community Markets said its stores have stopped using the recalled product in its prepared foods and will fully refund customers who return yogurt.
Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer who has represented thousands of people in food-borne illness cases, including hundreds in the Jack in the Box food poisoning case in the 1990s, said he expects to file a lawsuit on behalf of two families with young children who were hospitalized in recent days.
Early last week, he said, a Seattle family with a 1- and 3-year-old called him after both children were hospitalized, including one with acute kidney failure. Both children are out of the hospital, and are expected to make a full recovery, he said.
A second family, with a 7-year-old who underwent dialysis, called him Thursday night. The girl had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, he said, but hadn’t tested positive for E. coli, possibly because the bacteria had cleared her system by the time she was tested.
Both families had purchased the recalled yogurt, Marler said.
“It’s fortunately a small outbreak,” Marler said. “It appears that some of the illnesses are quite severe, which is typical, as it’s usually the very young and the very old that get, unfortunately, the sickest.”