Two new Illinois cases of E. coli O157:H7 related to
consumption of bagged spinach
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Tested spinach matches the national outbreak pattern
for E. coli O157:H7
[OCT. 20, 2006]
-- A woman from the downstate area and a child from northeastern
Illinois are the state's two latest E. coli O157:H7 cases connected
to the national outbreak associated with spinach consumption.
The spinach from the downstate woman's household tested positive for
E. coli O157:H7 at the Illinois Department of Public Health
laboratory, and the bacteria was determined to be the national
outbreak strain. This is the third case in Illinois linked to the
national outbreak and the second batch of spinach to test positive
in the state.
The fourth case is a child whose family reports
purchasing spinach. She became ill in late September but has now
Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, has warned
about the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, which is a specific strain of
E. coli, in multiple states, associated with the consumption of
bagged spinach. "We are still seeing cases of persons who ate
tainted spinach before it was identified," Whitaker said. "Anyone
who experiences symptoms of illness after eating fresh spinach or
products containing spinach are urged to contact their health care
provider and local health department."
E. coli O157:H7 is a virulent strain compared to other strains of
E. coli. It causes diarrhea, often with bloody stools. Although most
healthy adults can recover completely within a week, some people can
develop a form of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
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The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.
To date, almost 200 cases of illness have been reported to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including cases of
hemolytic uremic syndrome and three deaths.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, along with the Illinois Restaurant
Association and the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, called on
all grocery stores and restaurants in Illinois to help prevent E.
coli contamination by pulling spinach and spinach-related products
from shelves and menus. The governor also sent a letter to members
of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and
Pensions asking that they oppose a bill that would weaken the
state's ability to ensure food safety. Since then, the Food and Drug
Administration has determined that the spinach implicated in the
outbreak was grown in three counties in California: Monterey, San
Benito and Santa Clara.
The Illinois Department of Public Health is working with the
Centers for Disease Control laboratory to test people whose illness
may be linked to the outbreak. Health care providers with suspect
cases may contact the Department of Public Health laboratory for
testing after consulting with their local health department.
Department of Public Health news release]