Published Date: 2002-06-19 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/EDR> E. Coli O157 - USA (New York) (03)
Archive Number: 20020619.4538
E. COLI O157 - USA (NEW YORK) (03)
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 15 Jun 2002
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: Rockland Journal News [edited]
E. coli found in beef at sick girl's home
Ground beef found in the family freezer of [a 6 year old] Orangetown girl
who is seriously ill with _E. coli_ O157 infection was contaminated with
the bacteria, state officials confirmed on 14 Jun 2002.
The state Department of Agriculture and Markets has taken meat samples from
a large food wholesale distributor, where the Orangetown family bought the
food, agency spokeswoman Jessica Chittenden said. Investigators said they
were not sure if the meat was infected before or after it left the store.
"We were in there right away to take samples," she said. "The investigation
is focusing on the store right now." Tests on 2 packages of meat taken from
the store on 7 Jun 2002 came back negative for the food-borne disease.
Results are pending on 2 additional samples, she said.
Tests performed last week by the state Department of Health confirmed that
the meat found in the family's freezer contained _E. coli_ bacteria, said
department spokeswoman Claire Pospisil. But those findings do not
necessarily mean the store was the source of the contamination, she said.
The strain of _E. coli_ in this case usually originates in the intestines
of cows and is often passed to people through meat -- often ground beef --
that is undercooked. Once a person is infected, that person can transmit
the disease through person-to-person contact.
So far 2 of the 25 people who have contracted the infection during the past
month live in Orangetown. Investigators believe the second Orangetown case
contracted it from the first. The other 23 cases are from the Monsey area.
Investigators suspect the 2 outbreaks are unrelated, even though they
occurred at the same time. No progress has been made in finding the source
of the Monsey outbreak, said Dr. Joan Facelle, Rockland commissioner of
health. Investigators suspect that the illness was spread through
Facelle said the Health Department had inspected schools and other
institutions used by the _E. coli_ victims. No sign of the bacteria has
been found, she said. Facelle said the department would not know for sure
if the store was the source until more tests were completed. If a store is
identified as the source of an _E. coli_ outbreak, the state Department of
Agriculture and Markets will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
to determine where the food was contaminated, Chittenden said.
[Byline: Jane Lerner]
[The source of the organism in the Monsey cases remains unclear. The
finding of _E. coli_ O157 in ground beef in the house of one Orangetown
case suggests this vehicle as the source. Even with infected meat, if the
food is appropriately handled (not contaminating surfaces that could spread
the bacilli to already cooked meat or other food for ingestion) and
adequately cooked, the risk of disease is nil. With the long distances
that food for sale traverses during distribution, outbreaks of food-borne
disease can be quite widespread. - Mod.LL]