On Wednesday March 30, Public Health France (SPF) confirmed the link – suspected since mid-March – between the consumption of Buitoni frozen pizzas and several dozen cases of serious infections, in children and adolescents, who killed two of them. Twelve regions are affected: Hauts-de-France, New-Aquitaine, Pays de la Loire, Ile-de-France, Brittany, Grand-Est, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Centre-Val de Loire, Provence-Alpes-Côte d Azur, Burgundy-Franche-Comté, Normandy and Occitanie.
It is, in fact, a very unusual epidemic of foodborne infections, hemolytic and uremic syndromes (HUS), which has been raging in metropolitan France since the beginning of the year. Each year, approximately 160 cases of HUS are notified to SPF, which has set up a monitoring system for this disease since 1996. Often bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain and sometimes vomiting: 3 to 10 days after contamination, these symptoms appear and can progress, after a week, to renal failure. Great fatigue, pallor, decrease in the volume of urine, which becomes darker, and sometimes convulsions are then the warning signs. The management, in the hospital, is based in particular on blood transfusions and/or dialysis. About 10% of affected children thus have a severe form.
In children, this syndrome is most often due to a bacterium Escherichia coli. Once ingested, this infectious germ releases its toxins into the digestive tract, where they destroy the intestinal cells. These toxins also reach the bloodstream, which transports them to the small arteries of the kidneys. There they create “breaches, explains Matthieu Jamme, nephrologist and resuscitator, in a tweet. These loopholes will be closed” but their repair results in a narrowing, or even an occlusion, of the small renal arteries.
The kidneys, whose oxygen supply is depleted, begin to malfunction. Hence kidney failure “which, if not treated quickly, will be responsible for an accumulation of waste products in the blood that can be responsible for cardiac arrest”, adds Matthieu Jamme. Without going to this extreme, “30% of patients with severe forms retain renal sequelae”, says Professor François-Xavier Weill, Head of the Enteric Pathogenic Bacteria Unit at the Institut Pasteur. In the event of suggestive symptoms, it is therefore necessary to consult a doctor immediately.
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