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Health and Family Services Cabinet
Update: DPH Reports Additional Case Related to E. coli Outbreak

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, September 20, 2006  
Contact Information:  Gwenda Bond or Beth Crace, (502) 564-6786  

Kentuckians Should Continue to Avoid All Fresh Spinach Products

The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) today reported one additional case of E. coli O157:H7 to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  in relation to an outbreak of the illness in 21 states. The case was confirmed through testing by the Kentucky Public Health Laboratory in Frankfort.

This brings the total number of people in Kentucky with cases of E. coli potentially related to the national outbreak to seven. The newly reported case involves a male teenager from Kenton County who received outpatient medical treatment.

Of the six previously reported cases, only an Oldham County woman remains hospitalized. The cases reported to date have involved residents from Oldham (2), Hopkins, Jefferson and McCracken (2) Counties.

For updates on the E. coli outbreak in Kentucky visit the DPH Health Alerts Web site at Kentucky will report any additional cases to CDC daily by 1 p.m.; updates to the media will be available after that time each day. DPH will report all cases that meet the three criteria of CDC's case definition to be considered outbreak-related: occurring after Aug 1; lab confirmed E coli O157:H7; and matching genetic lab results.

At this time, DPH is still recommending that consumers avoid the consumption of all fresh spinach and products that contain fresh spinach as a safety measure to avoid possible E. coli infection. This does not apply to frozen spinach products, or other fresh produce items.

“E. coli infection is a serious threat to public health. As an added safety measure, we advise that consumers avoid all brands of fresh spinach and products that contain spinach for the time being,” said William Hacker, M.D., acting undersecretary for health for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and public health commissioner. “Additionally, physicians should make sure to report all E. coli cases to the local health department.”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the CDC continue to investigate an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in multiple states that may be associated with the consumption of fresh spinach. State health officials are continuing to work with staff at local health departments in the counties with suspected or confirmed cases to determine the source of the infections.

As of Tuesday, 131 cases of illness due to E. coli infection have been reported to the CDC, including 20 cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), 66 hospitalizations and one death. Because illnesses continue to be reported, this is considered an ongoing investigation.

If you believe you have experienced symptoms of illness after consumption of raw spinach, please consult your health care provider. You may also contact your local health department or the DPH Food Safety Branch at (502) 564-7181.


Last Updated 9/20/2006