Enterohemorrhagic E. coli O157:H7 gained great attention as a foodborne pathogen in 1982 after an outbreak from contaminated hamburgers in a fast-food chain. Although anyone can get ill from ingesting even low levels of this organism, the very young and the elderly are at greater risk for developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) as a result of an E. coli O157:H7 infection. HUS is a severe illness that can lead to permanent loss of kidney function and even death. According to estimates by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli O157:H7 is the cause of 73,000 cases of shigatoxigenic E. coli (STEC) infections and 61 deaths each year in the United States.
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