Tennessee Confirms First Case of E. coli in Nationwide Outbreak

Thursday, September 21, 2006 | 07:00pm

Tennessee Confirms First Case of E. coli
in Nationwide Outbreak

Nashville, September 22, 2006

The Tennessee Department of Health announced today that a resident of Davidson County has been infected with E. coli O157:H7. This is the first confirmed case in Tennessee related to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with fresh spinach from a source in California. The Tennessee patient became ill on September 10. The patient was never hospitalized and has now recovered.

E. coli infection can be a serious health threat. As a precaution, we urge Tennesseans to avoid eating raw spinach or salad blends containing raw spinach. Any Tennessean who has eaten raw spinach and does not feel well should contact his or her health provider,” said Tim Jones, M.D., Deputy State Epidemiologist.

On September 14, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a health alert advising U.S. residents nationwide to not consume and to discard any fresh spinach or food products that contain fresh spinach. In addition to the case in Tennessee, 157 cases of E. coli related to this outbreak have been reported in 23 other states as of September 21. Tennessee will report any additional cases to the CDC daily by 1 p.m. ET. Updates will be available to the media after that time each day.

E. coli infections are relatively common and generally result in diarrhea, sometimes with bloody stools. Most healthy adults will recover completely within a week, but children, elderly persons and those with compromised immune systems are often more susceptible to more serious illness. Rarely, some people can develop a type of kidney failure known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). HUS can lead to serious kidney damage and even death.

The Tennessee Department of Health offers the following advice for consumers:

  • Consumers should not eat any fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach that are consumed raw.
  • E. coli in spinach can be killed by cooking at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds. (Water boils at 212 degrees.) If spinach is cooked in a frying pan, all parts much reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit for all bacteria to be killed. If consumers choose to cook fresh spinach, they should not allow the raw spinach to contaminate other foods and food contact surfaces, and should wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling the spinach.
  • Persons who develop diarrhea after consuming fresh spinach or salad blends containing fresh spinach are urged to contact their health care provider and ask that they be tested for E. coli.
  • Persons who ate fresh spinach or salad blends and feel well do not need to see a health care provider.

Information about any additional cases of E. coli in Tennessee will be posted on the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www.tn.gov/health/.

For more information about E. coli, you may visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site at http://www.cdc.gov/foodborne/ecolispinach/ or the Food and Drug Administration Web site at http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/spinach.html.

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