E. coli in Buitoni pizzas: 56 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome identified, including two fatalities

Santé Publique France has counted 56 confirmed cases of hemolytic and uremic syndromes (HUS) linked to E. coli bacteria and the consumption of Buitoni pizzas as of May 4. Most concern children, two of whom died.

Public Health France reports, in a new update published on Tuesday, that 56 confirmed cases of hemolytic and uremic syndrome (HUS) have been identified in France as of May 4, in connection with contamination with the E. coli bacterium contracted after having consumed Buitoni brand pizzas.

The public health agency reports that of those 56 confirmed cases, 55 are in children and only one is an adult. It also specifies that all developed symptoms between January 18 and April 5, and that the epidemic peak took place between February 14 and March 6, with 10 cases detected each week.

The 55 sick children are aged 1 to 17 years with a median age of 6 years; 25 of them (45%) are female; 48 of them (87%) presented HUS, 7 (13%) STEC gastroenteritis (Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli). The agency recalls that two children died, and that the infected adult did not present SHU.

11 complaints filed to date

In detail, Public Health France also reports that these 56 cases are distributed in 12 regions of metropolitan France: Hauts-de-France (12 cases), Ile-de-France (9 cases), New Aquitaine (8 cases), Pays de la Loire (7 cases), Brittany (6 cases), Grand Est (3 cases), Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (3 cases), Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes ( 2 cases), Occitania (2 cases), the Center Val-de-Loire (2 cases), Burgundy Franche-Comté (1 case), as well as Normandy (1 case).

To date, the Paris prosecutor’s office says it has officially taken up 11 complaints in this case, but it is currently studying other complaints. These complaints were filed, essentially, for “involuntary homicides”, “involuntary injuries” and “deception on goods”.

From searches were carried out in mid-March at the Buitoni factory in Caudry (North), where the frozen pizzas Fraich’Up suspected of having caused serious cases of contamination of children by the E.coli bacteria are produced, and at the headquarters of Nestlé, in the Hauts-de-Seine.

If only the Fraich’Up range has been recalled since March 18, two other ranges of Buitoni pizzas (Four à Pierre and Bella Napoli), both frozen, have since been questioned by testimonies from victims of E. Coli poisoning. If suspected, the link between the symptoms and the consumption of these pizzas has not yet been formally established.

Jeanne Bulant BFMTV journalist

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