(Update: Let me stress in strong terms that the source of this virus has not yet been officially identified. Duffie Taylor mentioned that she and her friend had eaten at a restaurant before becoming ill, but that could be a coincidence. Tainted food is available in a variety of places, as you will note from the recent tomato, peanut butter, hamburger and spinach infections. There is no source yet identified for this specific case. Period.)
My young friend Duffie Taylor, a recent Hollins University graduate who has been writing for FRONT for a couple of months, is home from a hospital stay with what she says is an E. coli infection.
E. coli is Escherichia coli, a large and diverse group of bacteria, some of which will make you sick, most of which won't. The most dangerous strains have made international news and have killed people.
I had been trying to reach Duf to see what her progress on a couple of stories for October has been when I got an e-mail from her yesterday giving me the shocker that she and a friend were both hospitalized with the potentially dangerous virus. She says she believes she contracted it after eating in a restaurant.
Yesterday, Duffie wrote, "Oh Dan, no I didn't fall off the face of the earth; rather made a quick detour through hell this week. I have been in the hospital since Sunday--with E. coli and another GI infection usually contracted by people visiting third world countries. In order to come into my hospital room, the full protective garb was needed. I was SO sick; I came home yesterday and I hope I won't return. My friend, who ate the same thing as me, is still in the hospital. It is not good; I am still am very weak--but wanted to give you heads up."
This morning Duffie wrote, "My friend is facing kidney failure and they're putting him on dialysis. They think it's HUS [Hemolytic uremic syndrome, primarily a disease of infancy and early childhood and is classically characterized by the triad of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, and acute renal failure] which is not good. Public health inspectors are checking it out. I still feel bad, but there's nothing I--or you--can do for it really, just wait it out. I'm most worried for my friend."
As an afterthought, Duffie added: "(e. coli in Roanoke? It could make a good story)."