OK, I am annoyed at some of the press I have been reading on the cucumber/e.coli situation ( a virus, sky news, really? NO), but thinking about it made me realize that what I posted in the post below was a bit alarmist and not altogether informative, so for anyone who cares, here is some clarification:
I stand by what I said, that HUS is extremely serious & life-threatening.
However, the majority of people who become infected by the e.coli bacteria strain in the current outbreak will NOT get HUS. They can still get sick - diarrhea/vomiting, other unpleasantness that e.coli causes, but it is not going to be a life-threatening situation.
HUS is a syndrome (hemolytic-uremic syndrome, there are various spellings), not a virus. It occurs when a person's body reacts in a certain way to toxins emitted into the bloodstream by a bacteria (not just e.coli, there are other bacteria that can cause this reaction). There are a few other causes, but i think toxin-emitting bacteria are the primary cause.
When T had HUS as a reaction to pneumonia caused by a particular strep pneumococcal bacteria, we asked specialists "why him, why this reaction?" as apparently less than 1% of children exposed to that strain of bacteria would develop HUS. They had no answer for us other then "bad luck." The reason some people react this way while most don't is unknown.
My slightly extreme measures with regards to my son (we never let him eat hamburgers or lettuce/salad greens, and currently he is not eating cucumbers, we won't take him to petting zoos) has to do with the fact that we don't know if he is somehow predisposed to have this reaction. As in, he had it from strep pneumo., maybe he would react the same way to e.coli. So it's more then just a generalized paranoia, it stems from the fact that there may be something particular to him that causes him to develop this syndrome.
Anyway, if you got this far, thanks for reading & if you have any questions, feel free to ask.