Woman says near fatal infection possibly caused by tainted beef - WNEM TV 5

Woman says near fatal infection possibly caused by tainted beef

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

As 20-year-old Crystal Skram recovers from a nearly fatal illness, she is glad that health officials are working to determine whether tainted meat was to blame.

"It's awesome because if we find out where this came from then nobody else will get it," Skram said.

The Kansas City Health Department has ordered samples of Skram's bacteria from the Texas hospital where she was treated for several weeks. 

Recently there have been three cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, diagnosed and treated in Wichita, KS, and now one in Kansas City. Altogether, six have popped up in the Kansas City area and Wichita in the past few months.

Skram may have eaten tainted meat in Missouri. She came down ill while in Texas and had a lengthy hospital stay in Texas.

Jeff Herschberger of the Kansas City Health Department said the bacteria's genetic material can help determine whether or not the recent E.coli cases are connected or not.

"They can usually tell what strain of E.coli they've been infected with," he said. "If those match up, then there's a possible link."

E.coli may be found in contaminated meat or produce as well as swimming pools or lakes contaminated with feces.

Officials say a Detroit-based business is recalling about 1.8 million pounds of ground beef products sold for restaurant use in four states that may be contaminated with the bacteria E. coli. Missouri is one of the states and the beef was shipped to restaurants.

Trying to link up E.coli cases won't be easy.

"With food borne illness investigations, it can be very complicated because you start off as general and then you try to narrow it down," Herschberger said.

Skram hopes the elusive connection is made.

"If we find out what's behind all of this, then I'd feel better just knowing that nobody else will have to suffer the same way we have," she said.

Getting meat prepared so that any bacteria is cooked out is key, experts say. Good hygiene such as hand washing is also important for prevention.

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