At least 28 people were sickened in the E. coli outbreak linked to Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix salad and bagged salad sold at other stores.

We expect the outbreak to grow, but to date the number of ill people identified in each state with the outbreak strain is as follows: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (2), New York (22), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1).  Illness onset dates for these victims range from October 18, 2012 to November 3, 2012. Ill persons range in age from 4 years to 66 years, with a median age of 24 years. Sixty-eight percent of ill persons are female. Among 24 ill persons with available information, 10 (42%) reported being hospitalized. Two ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of E. coli poisoning that causes kidney failure (renal failure).

E. coli Poisoning Outbreak Investigation

State public health officials are interviewing ill persons to obtain information regarding foods they might have eaten and other exposures in the week before illness. This is called epidemiological evidence.

The outbreak was initially confined to New York, where preliminary information indicated that Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend was one likely source for illnesses. In response to the outbreak, Wegmans issued a recall of the Spinach and Spring Mix salad on November 2, 2012. The recalled spinach salad was sold at Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, and Massachusetts between October 14 and November 1. Since that time, more ill persons in other states have been reported, and the investigation has expanded.

In New York, 13 (81 percent) of 16 ill persons for whom we have information report eating Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend in the week before becoming ill. Outside of New York, all five (100 percent) of the ill persons interviewed in other states report eating several different brands of pre-packaged leafy greens that did not come from Wegmans. Investigations are ongoing to determine if other contaminated foods are also a source of illness in this outbreak.

Testing conducted by the New York Department Health Wadsworth Center Laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 from four leftover packages of Wegmans brand Organic Spinach and Spring Mix blend collected from four ill persons’ homes. This is solid evidence that the Wegmans product caused at least some of the illnesses.

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