Press Release

October 19, 2006


Two New Illinois cases of E. coli O157:H7 related to consumption of bagged spinach  

Tested spinach matches the national outbreak pattern for E. coli O157:H7 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A woman from the downstate area and a child from the northeast area of Illinois are the two latest E. coli O157:H7 cases in the state 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 (IDPH) laboratory and it 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 recovered.

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 that was associated with the consumption of bagged spinach. “We are still seeing cases of persons who ate tainted spinach before it was identified,” said Dr. Whitaker. “ 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 (HUS).

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 HUS and three deaths.

Governor 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 they oppose a bill that would weaken the state’s ability to ensure food safety. Since then, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined the spinach implicated in the outbreak was grown in three counties in California: Monterey, San Benito and Santa Clara.

Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is working with the Centers for Disease Control laboratory to test persons suspected of being linked to the outbreak. Health care providers with suspect cases may contact the IDPH laboratory for testing after consulting with their local health department.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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