Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS)

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This serious disorder—once considered to be a rare form of kidney disease—in recent years has become more common as a complication of food-borne infection of ESCHERICHIA COLI 0157:H7. In very young children, between two and seven percent of E. coli 0157:H7 infections lead to this complication. In fact, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is the main cause of kidney failure in American children.

As the bacteria enter the kidneys, causing bleeding and destroying red blood cells, the child becomes pale and tired, with a fever and rising blood pressure. The kidneys shut down and urine is no longer produced.

HUS is a life-threatening condition that must be treated in a hospital intensive care unit, where the child receives blood transfusions and is placed on kidney dialysis to allow the organs to recover. Most patients do recover at this point, but a small percentage (about 15 percent) do not and thus require permanent dialysis or a kidney transplant.

Even with intensive care, the death rate from this complication is still between 3 and 5 percent. One-third of the survivors will have abnormal kidney function years later and a few need long-term dialysis. Another 8 percent suffer with other complications, including high blood pressure, seizures, blindness, and paralysis for the rest of their lives.
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