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More E.coli spinach found in outbreak


More E.coli spinach found in outbreak

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A second bag of spinach contaminated with toxic E.coli bacteria has been found in Utah, and regulators hope it will offer clues about an outbreak that has now sickened 173 people and killed as many as three.

A bag of spinach found in New Mexico last week helped experts pinpoint suspect farms in three counties in California's Salinas Valley, but the FDA said spinach grown outside of those counties is safe to eat.

"The Utah Department of Health and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department have confirmed that E. coli O157:H7 ... has been found in a bag of Dole baby spinach purchased in Utah with a use-by date of August 30, 2006," the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Sunday.

The E.coli strain O157:H7 is the same as that found in the nationwide outbreak.

 

The FDA said 173 cases of illness due to E. coli have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 27 with a serious type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. There have been 92 hospitalizations and one death in 25 states.

Health officials also said they strongly suspected the deaths of a two-year-old boy in Idaho and an 86-year-old woman in Maryland were caused by the E. coli outbreak but samples that would prove this were not available.

FDA officials said even if everyone stopped eating spinach when warnings were first issued around September 15, they would expect to receive reports about illnesses into October because it often takes two to three weeks to hear of possible cases, perform the needed tests and get results back.

Escherichia coli is a common and usually harmless bacteria found in the guts of animals. A new, toxic strain called E.coli O157:H7 was identified in 1982. It now causes an 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths in the United States each year.


Source Reuters