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State public health director issues warning about food-borne illness linked to fresh spinach consumption   Send a link to a friend

No confirmed Illinois cases of E. coli from consumption of bagged fresh spinach

[SEPT. 16, 2006]  SPRINGFIELD -- Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, issued a warning Friday about an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, a specific strain of E. coli. The outbreak is in multiple states, and preliminary epidemiological evidence suggests that bagged fresh spinach may be a possible cause.

"To date there are no cases in Illinois of anyone becoming sick with E. coli after eating bagged fresh spinach, but an investigation is ongoing," Whitaker said. "We advise people to err on the side of caution and not eat bagged fresh spinach. Anyone who thinks they may have experienced symptoms of illness after eating bagged fresh spinach are urged to contact their health care provider."

The Illinois Department of Public Health has sent a health advisory to local health departments and hospitals alerting health care providers of the severity of this illness and the seriousness of the outbreak.

E. coli O157:H7 is a virulent strain compared with 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. This syndrome is most likely to occur in young children and the elderly. The condition can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

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Fifty cases of illness had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before Friday, including eight cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome and one death. States that reported the illness before Friday were Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.

Investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is ongoing.

[Illinois Department of Public Health news release]


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