Public Health France is currently investigating an increase in the number of children with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
As of May 6, 2019, 16 children infected with Escherichia coli serogroup O26 are being investigated by Public Health France and the National Reference Center (CNR) E. coli and its associated laboratory (Institut Pasteur, Paris, and Laboratoire de microbiology of Robert Debré Hospital, Paris). Fifteen children had HUS and one child had uncomplicated diarrhea.
Genomic analysis of isolated strains in 14 of these children confirmed that 10 children were infected with an epidemic strain with the same characteristics. For 4 other children, the strains are different from the epidemic strain, and different from each other; these are so-called “sporadic” infections not related to this epidemic. The analyzes are underway for two more children.
The 10 children infected with the epidemic strain of E. coli O26 are 6 months to 4 years old and live in 5 regions of metropolitan France. The investigations of food consumption, conducted by Public Health France and the General Directorate of Food (DGAl), have identified a possible link between the consumption of raw milk cheese Saint Marcellin and Saint Félicien and the occurrence of the disease. . Indeed, the families of the 10 children report a consumption of these cheeses. For 5 families, the origin of these cheeses could be documented: it is the Alpine cheese dairy (Drôme). A withdrawal and a reminder of the St Marcellin and St Félicien cheeses produced in the Alpine cheese dairy were set up on April 27, 2019 ( DGAl ).
HUS is an infrequent disease in France: between 100 and 160 cases are reported as part of the surveillance system each year. It is a serious disease because it is the leading cause of acute renal failure in children aged 1 month to 3 years.
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