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Multiple states investigating a large outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections

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    Thursday, September 14, 2006, 23:00 EDT (11:00 PM EDT)


    Public health officials in multiple states, with the assistance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, are investigating a large outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections. Thus far, 50 cases with isolates demonstrating pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) CDC PulseNet pattern number EXHX01.0124, as determined by Xba restriction enzyme DNA digestion, have been reported from CT (1), ID (3), IN (4), MI (3), OR (5), NM (2), UT (11), WI (20). Eight patients developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and one patient died. Most cases are recent: for those with known illness onset, the range of onset is 08/25/2006 to 09/03/2006. The outbreak is likely ongoing.

    Preliminary findings from case interviews indicate that pre-packaged spinach is the most likely source. Additional investigation is necessary to determine the brand or brands of pre-packaged spinach involved. State and CDC investigators are working with FDA to quickly gather information to take action to protect the public. The FDA advises that consumers not eat bagged fresh spinach at this time.

    The E. coli O157:H7 bacterium causes diarrhea that is often bloody and accompanied by abdominal cramps, but fever is absent or mild. The illness typically resolves within a week. However, some people, especially young children and the elderly, develop the hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS.

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