Source of Article: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=99561
Iceberg lettuce may be behind the E. coli cases which left six
people hospitalized in
A Cook County Department of Public Health spokesman said the cases
were not in its jurisdiction, one that excludes
Melaney Arnold, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Health, said the six were contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 between late August and mid-September.
They were hospitalized after eating iceberg lettuce distributed by Aunt Mid’s Produce Company, prompting a statewide warning by the
state’s Department of Public Health. At least 26 people in
“Right now what we’re able to say is that basically six people who consumed this iceberg lettuce that was distributed by Aunt Mid’s reported having E. coli that is the same strain as other cases that are in Michigan,” Arnold said.
Aunt Mid’s has voluntarily suspended the sale and processing of iceberg lettuce while the investigation is underway. The Illinois Department of Public Health has asked all restaurants and institutions to discontinue serving iceberg lettuce they may have purchased from Aunt Mid’s.
E. coli O157 is found in the intestines of animals such as cattle, goats and sheep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Often what happens is that contamination from animal feces sometimes makes its way to contaminate other foods,” said Dr. Mark Sotir, epidemiologist in the CDC’s Department of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Wednesday.
People contaminated by E. coli O157 often have cramps, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC.
“Although the majority of people recover, it can be a very serious disease with the possibility of death,” Sotir said.
Dr. Sotir and his colleague Dr. Samir Sodha, also an epidemiologist at the CDC, said hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) affects 8 percent of people diagnosed with E. coli O157, and is one of its most severe complications. Those with HUS suffer kidney failure, and in some cases, stroke, seizure and even death.
“A couple of populations that are specifically vulnerable to getting HUS are the elderly and young children,” Sotir said. “That’s why in the public health community, we’re particularly concerned with investigating these outbreaks of E. coli O157.”
Dominic Riggio, president of Aunt Mid’s, said the company has been fully cooperating with
“We have nothing to hide,” Riggio said.
Riggio said he feels that allegations against his company are unsupported.
“There have been no hard facts and no evidence that any of Aunt Mid’s products have been contaminated with E. coli,” Riggio said Wednesday. He added that he has not been
informed of the outcome of
He would not comment on where the company's iceberg lettuce is grown.
“It is very important that you thoroughly wash all produce, no matter what type it is, and even in packages that say "pre-washed," she said.
Last year, 137 cases of E. coli were reported in
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