SPRINGFIELD – An elderly woman from north-central Illinois is the first state resident whose E. coli O157:H7 isolate matches the national outbreak associated with spinach consumption.
Her onset of illness was late August and she is hospitalized with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a form of kidney failure that can be associated with E. coli O157:H7, especially in the elderly and the very young. The woman has a history of consumption of fresh spinach.
Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, warns about the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, a specific strain of E. coli, in multiple states that may be associated with the consumption of bagged spinach.
“We advise people to err on the side of caution and not eat fresh spinach or products containing spinach. Anyone who thinks they may have experienced symptoms of illness after eating fresh spinach or products containing spinach are urged to contact their health care provider and local health department,” said Dr. Whitaker.
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, more than 100 cases of illness have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including cases of HUS and one death.
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 submit stool specimens to the IDPH laboratory for testing after consulting with their local health department.