F.D.A. Warns of Outbreak and Not to Eat Spinach
09-14-2006 10:46 PM
F.D.A. Warns of Outbreak and Not to Eat Spinach
New York Times
September 15, 2006
F.D.A. Warns of Outbreak and Not to Eat Spinach
By GARDINER HARRIS
WASHINGTON, Sept. 14 — Consumers should avoid eating fresh bagged spinach after an outbreak of E. coli in eight states killed one person and sickened at least 49, federal health officials announced Thursday night.
The outbreak involves a virulent strain of E. coli known as 0157:H7, which produces a toxin that can lead to bloody diarrhea, kidney failure and, in rare cases, death.
State and federal health officials have used genetic screening tools to confirm that all 50 people sickened by the disease suffered from the same bacteria, said Dr. David Acheson of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the F.D.A.
But health officials still have no idea which food manufacturer may be to blame. The first case was reported on Aug. 23 and the most recent on Sept. 3, Dr. Acheson said.
“It’s increasing by the day,” Dr. Acheson said. “We may be at the peak, we may not. We’re giving preliminary data here.”
Dr. Acheson said the F.D.A. became aware of a possible outbreak on Wednesday. But delays are common as information is gathered and compared, he said.
“It takes quite some time for someone to be exposed, get sick, get sick enough to see the doctor, have it examined, have a sample sent to a lab, have it confirmed positive and have it be put in the public health system,” Dr. Acheson said.
Dr. Acheson described the outbreak as “significant.” It is broadly distributed across the country. Twenty cases — including the only confirmed death — occurred in Wisconsin. There were 11 cases in Utah, 5 in Oregon, 4 in Indiana, 3 each in Idaho and Michigan, 2 in New Mexico and 1 in Connecticut, he said.
Most of those affected have been women. Although this strain of E. coli commonly affects children, many patients have been older than 20, Dr. Acheson said.
Health officials are by no means certain that bagged spinach is the culprit. When patients have a confirmed case of the disease, health officials ask the victims many questions about what they ate over the previous weeks. Bagged fresh spinach is the only food that patients so far have had in common, Dr. Acheson said.
Asked if consumers should also avoid bagged salads, Dr. Acheson answered somewhat tentatively, saying, “At this point, there is nothing to implicate bagged salad.”
E. coli 0157:H7 is a dangerous strain of a type of bacteria that live in the intestines of humans and other animals. There are hundreds of E. coli strains, most of them harmless, but 0157:H7 makes a toxin that can cause severe illness — bloody diarrhea, anemia and, in 2 percent to 7 percent of cases, kidney failure. Children under 5 and the elderly are the most likely to become gravely ill.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the 0157:H7 strain causes 73,000 infections and 61 deaths a year in the United States.
The bacteria can live in cows’ intestines without making the animals sick, and most infections in people come from eating undercooked hamburgers (cooking to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit destroys the bacteria and the toxin they produce). In 2002, 19 million pounds of raw beef were recalled because of 0157:H7 contamination.
In a notorious outbreak in 1993, four children died from the infection after eating contaminated Jack in the Box hamburgers. Raw milk and unpasteurized cheese can also spread the bacteria. Outbreaks have been linked to petting zoos where children touched farm animals that carried the bacteria.
Produce can also become contaminated by animal wastes or unsanitary water, and outbreaks have been caused by sprouts, lettuce and unpasteurized fruit juice or cider. In 1996, one child died and 66 others became ill after drinking unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice.
Thorough washing should make it safe to eat most produce raw, except for alfalfa sprouts.
But Dr. Acheson advised consumers to avoid bagged spinach altogether, although he noted that thorough cooking killed the bacteria.
Denise Grady contributed reporting from New York.
09-14-2006 11:08 PM
Damn, I was about to go shopping tomorrow and pick some up. Good thing I just read that!
09-14-2006 11:58 PM
That's why I posted this....figured a lot of people who read this board are eating the bagged spinach.
09-15-2006 12:45 AM
Read this earlier...I just threw a bag away tonight..damn if I was cheap and poor mf I would take it back to the store. Instead im just poor.
09-15-2006 12:56 AM
Wow!!! Thanks for posting that! I eat spinach several times a week and I was going to buy a bag tonight after work, but forgot.
E. Coli is a nasty bacteria that is ALWAYS mutating into a new strain. Let's hope this get's isolated quickly.
Any thoughts as to how this happened?
I know that in my Bio 101 course in college, we took water samples from the local river and found a ton of E. Coli in it. The reason being that the run-off from the rain took the waste right into the river. Perhaps improper irragation is the problem. We'll have to wait and see.
09-15-2006 01:17 AM
Just informed my prego wife to avoid spinach for awhile. She eats it frequently.
09-15-2006 01:24 AM
Canned spinach like popeye.
09-15-2006 02:00 AM
Last edited by HairyLarry35; 09-15-2006 at 02:50 AM.
Reason: Trying to get this F***ing movie to work!!!
09-15-2006 11:05 AM
ugh... i just ate some spinach soup yesterday lol...
*crosses fingers and hopes he doesn't get bloody diarrhea*
09-15-2006 12:11 PM
So I was affected by this. Does anyone know if e coli just clear on their own? Basically monday I went and had a salad. I just started a bulker, so I was eating tons of food. Needless to say my stomach and intestines were not happy on tuesday, I just brushed it off. Wed. wasn't much better, but things seemed to clear up Wed night.
Yesterday I read the warnings, but things seem to have faded. Anyone help me out?
Edit: Sorry if that makes no sense.
09-15-2006 02:00 PM
I'd call yoru doctor and explain your symptoms. See what they say. E.coli is basically everywhere.....we're exposed to it all of the time but every once in awhile it mutates into a particularly bad strain and causes severe illness and sometimes death before the source pf contamination with that strain is isolated.
Originally Posted by doggzj
09-15-2006 04:14 PM
damn, someone actually died from eating a HEALTHY food. Now people are gonna stay away from vegetables and they have a good excuse for it. stupid bacteria.
09-15-2006 06:47 PM
Yeahright -- thanks for the info.
Thought I'd add more, cut & pasted from the WHO site:
Sources of infection
Most available information relates to serotype O157:H7, since it is easily differentiated biochemically from other E. coli strains. The reservoir of this pathogen appears to be mainly cattle and other ruminants such as camels. It is transmitted to humans primarily through consumption of contaminated foods, such as raw or undercooked ground meat products and raw milk. Faecal contamination of water and other foods, as well as cross-contamination during food preparation (with beef and other meat products, contaminated surfaces and kitchen utensils), will also lead to infection. Examples of foods implicated in outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 include undercooked hamburgers, dried cured salami, unpasteurized fresh-pressed apple cider, yogurt, cheese and milk. An increasing number of outbreaks are associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables (sprouts, lettuce, coleslaw, salad) whereby contamination may be due to contact with faeces from domestic or wild animals at some stage during cultivation or handling. EHEC has also been isolated from bodies of water (ponds, streams), wells and water troughs, and has been found to survive for months in manure and water-trough sediments. Waterborne transmission has been reported, both from contaminated drinking-water and from recreational waters.
Person-to-person contact is an important mode of transmission through the oral-faecal route. An asymptomatic carrier state has been reported, where individuals show no clinical signs of disease but are capable of infecting others. The duration of excretion of EHEC is about one week or less in adults, but can be longer in children. Visiting farms and other venues where the general public might come into direct contact with farm animals has also been identified as an important risk factor for EHEC infection.
Control and prevention methods
The prevention of infection requires control measures at all stages of the food chain, from agricultural production on the farm to processing, manufacturing and preparation of foods in both commercial establishments and the domestic environment. Available data are not sufficient to enable the recommendation of specific intervention methods on the farm in order to reduce the incidence of EHEC in cattle. However, risk assessments conducted at national level have predicted that the number of cases of disease might be reduced by various mitigation strategies for ground beef (for example, screening the animals preslaughter to reduce the introduction of large numbers of pathogens in the slaughtering environment). Good hygienic slaughtering practices reduce contamination of carcasses by faeces, but do not guarantee the absence of EHEC from products. Education in hygienic handling of foods for abattoir workers and those involved in the production of raw meat is essential to keep microbiological contamination to a minimum. Similarly, prevention of contamination of raw milk on the farm is virtually impossible, but the education of farm workers in principles of good hygienic practice should be carried out in order to keep contamination to a minimum. The only effective method of eliminating EHEC from foods is to introduce a bactericidal treatment, such as heating (e.g. cooking or pasteurization) or irradiation. Some countries implement the policy that raw ground beef is considered contaminated if it is found to contain E. coli O157:H7.
Preventive measures for E. coli O157:H7 infection are similar to those recommended for other foodborne diseases (see basic food hygiene practice described below). However, some of the measures may need to be reinforced for EHEC, particularly in view of its importance in vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly. Since a number of EHEC infections have been caused by contact with recreational water, it is also important to protect such water areas, as well as drinking-water sources, from animal wastes.
WHO | Enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC)
09-15-2006 06:58 PM
The number of individual E. coli bacteria in the feces that one human passes in one day averages between 100 billion and 10 trillion.
Wash your hands after you wipe!!! Ewwww!!
EDIT: Check this out for clinical signs:
"CLINICAL MANIFESTATIONS: Neonatal septicemia or meningitis caused by Escherichia coli and other gram-negative bacilli cannot be differentiated clinically from serious infections caused by other infectious agents. The first signs of sepsis may be subtle and similar to those observed in noninfectious processes. Clinical signs of septicemia include fever, temperature instability, grunting respirations, apnea, cyanosis, lethargy, irritability, anorexia, vomiting, jaundice, hepatomegaly, abdominal distention, and diarrhea. Meningitis may occur without overt signs suggesting central nervous system involvement. Some gram-negative bacilli, such as Citrobacter koseri, Enterobacter sakazakii, and Serratia marcescens, are associated with brain abscesses in infants with meningitis caused by these organisms."
Source: Escherichia coli and Other Gram-Negative Bacilli (Septicemia and Meningitis in Neonates) -- 2003 (1): 273 -- Red Book
Scroll down to find a plethra of other journals and studies done. Click full text and there ya have it.
09-15-2006 11:43 PM
Great, now the idiots at the FDA are going to start busting Popeye. Dough!
Originally Posted by yeahright
09-16-2006 12:25 PM
damn. i just cooked dinner for this girl last night, and one of the things i made was a salad with baby spinach leaves... bloody hell, probably ended up poisoning her.
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