ARCHIVED - Health Hazard Alerts


Canada Communicable Disease Report

15 November 2006

Volume 32
Number 22

E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in the United States Associated with Bagged Fresh Spinach

Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Ottawa, Ontario

OTTAWA - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is advising consumers not to eat bagged fresh spinach from the United States at this time, until further notice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) is reporting an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in the U.S. that may be associated with the consumption of bagged fresh spinach.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) reports that there are currently no illnesses in Canada directly linked to this outbreak. However, since spinach from the U.S. is regularly imported into Canada, and considering the uncertainty of the source of contamination, consumers are advised not to eat bagged fresh spinach from the U.S. at this time. Packaged spinach is labelled with country of origin. If consumers are uncertain of its origin they can inquire with the retailer.

The USFDA has reported at least 50 cases of illness in eight different states, including one death and eight cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a form of kidney failure.

The USFDA has not yet confirmed a source of contamination for this outbreak. The CFIA, PHAC and Health Canada are working closely on the investigation of this outbreak situation with U.S. officials.

Consumption of food contaminated with this E. coli O157:H7 bacteria may cause serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea. Some people may have seizures or strokes and some may need blood transfusions and kidney dialysis. Although everyone is susceptible to E. coli infection, people with compromised immune systems, young children and the elderly are most at risk for developing serious complications. Individuals who have experienced symptoms of illness after consuming spinach are urged to contact their health care provider.

For more information consumers can call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735.

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