Published Date: 2007-01-12 00:00:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> E. coli O157, lettuce - USA (multistate): 2006
Archive Number: 20070112.0158
E. COLI O157, LETTUCE - USA (MULTISTATE): 2006
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Fri, 12 Jan 2007
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: FDA.gov [edited]
The FDA today, 12 Jan 2007, announced that it has moved closer to
identifying the source of illness for the Taco John _E. coli_
outbreak. FDA and the state of California, working in conjunction
with state health officials in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, have
DNA-matched the strain of _E. coli_ O157:H7 bacteria associated with
the outbreak with 2 environmental samples gathered from dairy farms
near a lettuce growing area in California's Central Valley.
The investigation is ongoing, including obtaining additional samples,
to determine if and how material from the dairy farms may have
contaminated the lettuce growing area.
FDA has no indication that any lettuce currently on the market,
including iceberg lettuce, is connected with any consumer illnesses.
This outbreak is not connected to any previous outbreak.
The outbreak sickened approximately 81 individuals in Nov and Dec
2006. Illnesses were reported in Minnesota (33), Iowa (47), and
Wisconsin (1). 26 people were hospitalized, and 2 suffered hemolytic
uremic syndrome, a serious complication of _E. coli_ O157:H7
infection that can cause permanent kidney damage and death. No deaths
have been associated with the outbreak. No new cases of illness are
being reported and the outbreak is now considered over.
Taco John's is headquartered in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and has franchises
in more than 25 states; however, the outbreak was associated only
with Taco John's restaurants located in Iowa and Minnesota.
Epidemiological studies by Minnesota and Iowa health officials had
previously identified shredded iceberg lettuce served in the
restaurants as the likely vehicle of transmission in the outbreak.
FDA was able to focus on specific lettuce growing regions based on
the traceback from records obtained from the lettuce processor. The
recent DNA match provides a clue as to one possible source of the
contamination for the lettuce, although others may exist. It has yet
to be determined how the _E. coli_ contaminated the lettuce. The
traceback investigation is ongoing and will hopefully yield further
insight into how this contamination occurred.
In the wake of recent outbreaks of consumer illness connected with
fresh produce, FDA will accelerate its efforts to address produce
safety, including consideration of new regulations, if appropriate,
to reduce risk of contamination by pathogens.
In the near future, FDA plans to announce public meetings
specifically to involve all stakeholders in identifying and
initiating measures that will improve the safety of fresh produce
marketed in USA commerce.
[This outbreak, as stated, was independent of the one associated with
Taco Bell restaurants primarily in the northern USA. - Mod.LL]