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'It Was Their Fault I Got Sick': Family Says Ranch Should Pay Medical Bills After Teen Contracts E. Coli (Video)


The family of a California teen who got sick from drinking apple cider contaminated with E. coli are reportedly asking the owners of the ranch where she drank the cider to pay her medical bills (video below).

Julia Maddux, 13, of Pollock Pines, California, said she contracted the bacterial infection after her family visited High Hill Ranch in Camino, California, on Oct. 11, KCRA reports. While she was there, Julia reportedly drank some hot cider made from the ranch's unpasteurized apple juice.

Two days later, she began experiencing symptoms of E. coli poisoning.

"I had no color in my face," the teen told KCRA. "My lips almost had no color in them. I could barely stand up. I was almost fainting."

Julia added that she also had projectile vomiting.

Although everyone in Julia's family reportedly tried some sort of apple treat while visiting the ranch, the teen was the only one who drank the cider.

Her family is now asking High Hill Ranch to pay the medical bills she has incurred as a result of the bacterial infection. 

"I think they should because it was their fault I got sick," Julia said. 

The teen's mother said the ranch told her to get an attorney, although Jerry Visman, the owner of the High Hill Ranch, has denied this.

Julia is reportedly just of at least seven people in the Sacramento County area who contracted E. coli from drinking the ranch's apple juice, reports KCRA.   

In light of these reports of illness, the ranch has voluntarily recalled all of its unpasteurized apple juice products and is now selling pasteurized juice made by another company.

Tests conducted by the El Dorado County Environmental Health Division confirmed the presence of the E. coli bacteria in a sample of apple juice produced at the ranch on Nov. 4, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The agency is currently testing two other samples of the juice, for which results are still pending.

Visman told KCRA that although he does not believe the E. coli contamination came from the sample jug offered to hundreds of ranch visitors on the day Julia reportedly contracted the bacteria, he is discontinuing free samples as a precaution. 

County officials cannot explain how the contamination occurred but said that they have inspected other farms in the state's famed Apple Hill area that produce unpasteurized juice and found that they were operating normally, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Symptoms of E. coli infection include stomach cramps, fever, vomiting and diarrhea, and usually appear three to four days after the bacteria is contracted. Although most people who contract the illness recover within a week, the bacteria may have serious and potentially fatal consequences for elderly people, young children and those with pre-existing health issues.

A total of 29,444 people reported getting sick from foodborne diseases, including E. coli, between January 2009 and December 2010 in the U.S., according to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sources: KCRA, Sacramento Bee, CDC / Photo credit: Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee, Dana Griffin/KCRA


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