HUS in Florida from a Petting Zoo?

Newsday.com – National News

Two additional cases of a mysterious kidney ailment have been confirmed in Central Florida patients, hospital officials said today.

A child and an adult have been admitted to Florida Hospital Orlando in critical condition with kidney failure, said Dr. Mehul Dixit, a pediatric nephrologist. They are suffering from HUS or “hemolytic uremic syndrome,” an uncommon ailment that develops after an infection causes the kidneys to malfunction.

Health officials have been investigating a spate of HUS cases that may be connected to petting zoos, where people can come in contact with trouble-causing bacteria in animal feces.

There are now five children hospitalized with the condition at Florida Hospital Orlando. Dixit said three of the children are in critical condition and two have improved to good condition…

Well, the “mysterious” word is in there soley to sex up a fairly straightforward story about an HUS outbreak.

From the CDC:

Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is characterized by the acute onset of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, renal injury, and low platelet count. … Most cases of HUS… occur after an acute gastrointestinal illness (usually diarrheal).

So, what we’re talking about here is anemia and renal failure, usually precipitated by a gastrointestinal infection. This is, as memory serves, the same thing that nearly put Jack in the Box out of business.

The biggest culprit for that infection, and the potentially resulting HUS is a particular E. coli strain, E. coli O157:H7. The link is to a good site at Ohio State about that particular strain, and a good discussion of HUS.

So, beware the petting zoo poo.