Ask the Doctor
Questions about kidney disease? Risk factors? Signs and symptoms? Are you concerned about yourself, a friend or family member? Ask Dr. Spry.
New York, NY
January 20, 1999
Recent reports about outbreaks of illness in children, which were traced to bacteria found in undercooked hamburger, has many parents worried. The illness that occurred after children ate this meat, hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, is caused by a deadly strain of E.coli bacteria, which are normally found in a harmless form in the human digestive tract. The harmful strain of bacteria produce a toxin that destroys blood vessels in vital organs, such as the kidneys, and it may lead to acute kidney failure in some cases.
The early symptoms of HUS include: bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and decreased urine output. Most of the children who develop HUS respond to treatment and make a complete recovery. They may need dialysis for a short time to clear toxins out of their blood. Only a small number go on to develop chronic kidney failure, requiring continued dialysis, and eventually, a kidney transplant. To prevent HUS, the National Kidney Foundation recommends that families take the following precautions:
For more information and a free fact sheet about HUS, contact the National Kidney Foundation at (800) 622-9010.