Grilling out bacteria

Friday, August 1st 2008, 8:10 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Summertime grilling can be dangerous if the food isn't cooked the right way, especially when cooking ground beef.

Eating undercooked ground beef is the most common cause of E-coli which could lead to complete kidney failure or death.

After Edie Hunter's kidney's shut down, she now has to visit her doctor to check her kidney function.

"Whenever you hear that her kidneys shut down, I mean, it scares you to death," said Edie's father Eddie.

Doctors told the Hunter family, Edie had E-coli caused from bacteria. The illness developed into Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, or HUS, and caused Edie's kidney shut-down.

The Hunters said hamburger is a family favorite. Edie's mother, Taryn Hunter said the family eats Hamburger Helper, hamburger patties and spaghetti throughout the week.

Eating beef isn't the only way the bacteria can be spread.

Drinking unpasteurized milk from cows, or contact with contaminated cow manure can also cause problems, but raw ground beef, is number one.

"It is fairly common, especially in the summertime," Martin Turman said. "That's when you have more of the barbecue and interaction to outdoors."

Over time, a person's immunity to the E-coli causing bacteria builds up, which is why young children are most susceptible.

Edie's kidney function is slowly recovering and was functioning at about 50 percent. Since Edie's ordeal, the Hunter family wanted to warn others to take extra precaution when cooking with ground beef.

According to doctors, there should be absolutely no pink meat in the ground beef fed to children. They also suggest parents and their children wash their hands frequently if they live near cattle and don't give kids raw milk.

The Hunter's doctor speculated undercooked ground beef that the family cooked was the most likely source of their daughter's infection.