State Health Department Investigates E. coli Cases Linked to Spinach

Albany, NY, September 15, 2006 – State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr.P.H., today confirmed seven cases of E. coli infections in New York State tied to the national outbreak associated with pre-packaged fresh spinach that has affected at least 10 states.

Dr. Novello said, "If you have bought pre-packaged fresh spinach, don't eat it. If it is in your refrigerator throw it out. Rinsing the spinach will not make it safe to eat."

The State Health Department's Wadsworth Laboratory test results today confirmed four cases of E. coli from Erie County, one case in Schoharie County, one case in Schenectady County, and one case in Chemung County that matched the bacteria found in the national outbreak.

The State Health Department is working closely with local health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate the outbreak. Over 50 cases of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported nationwide, including one death and several hospitalizations.

Dr. Novello noted that some people, especially young children and the elderly, may be at increased risk to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a serious condition that could result in death, as a result of infection with E. coli 0157:H7.

"If you have consumed pre-packaged fresh spinach and have experienced any symptoms such as diarrhea or abdominal cramps, please contact your health care provider," said Dr. Novello.

Facts

  • The E. coli O157:H7 bacteria causes diarrhea that is often bloody and accompanied by abdominal cramps. Fever is absent or mild. The illness typically resolves within a week.
  • The symptoms usually appear about three days after exposure, but can range from one to nine days. Most people recover without specific treatment in five to 10 days.
  • Not all diarrheal illness is caused by E. coli O157:H7. However, if diarrhea is present in children, or has lasted more than a day or two in adults, or is bloody, a health care provider should be consulted immediately.

Additional information about E. coli can be found on the Department's website at www.health.ny.gov or on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.