CDC issues E. coli alert in California, five other states

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By Todd R. Hansen
McNaughton Media

One confirmed E. coli case in California is among the 13 cases for which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert last Thursday.

The products identified by the CDC are Simple Truth Organic Power Greens and Nature’s Basket Organic Power Greens with “best if used by” dates through Dec. 20.

“Although these salads are expired, CDC is concerned they may still be in people’s homes,” the statement said. “Investigators are working to determine if additional products may be contaminated.”

There are up to 13 E. coli cases identified in six states, with three to seven of those in Washington; two in Alaska; and one each in California, Oregon, Ohio and Mississippi, the CDC reported.

“Four people have been hospitalized, including one with a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported,” the CDC said in its statement.

“The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for E. coli,” the CDC said.

Despite the possible public concern of an outbreak in the region, Richard Owens, a spokesman for the state Public Health Department, cited “patient confidentiality” as the reason not to identify where in California the E. coli case occurred. Express sister publication the Daily Republic has filed a California Public Records Act request compelling the state agency to provide the information or to show the legal source of why identifying a general geographical area could violate a patient’s confidentiality.

The CDC said people usually get sick two to eight days after swallowing the germ, but that is an average.

“Symptoms often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea, often bloody, and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high, less than 101 (degrees),” the CDC reported.

If anyone had the products in question in their refrigerators, the CDC suggests these steps be taken:

• Throw out recalled foods, and any other foods “stored with it or touching it.” Put the foods in a sealed bag in the garbage. If recalled food was stored in a reusable container, wash it with hot, soapy water before reusing the container again.
• Empty the refrigerator and put the items on a counter or table while you clean. Take out shelving, drawers and any other removable parts.
• Wash shelving, drawers and any other removable parts by hand with hot, soapy water. Dry with a clean towel.
• Clean and sanitize inside the refrigerator with hot, soapy water; then wipe with clean water to rinse off soap. Dry with a clean towel, and don’t forget to wipe inside the doors and any drawers that cannot be removed.
• Wipe food containers and drink containers with hot, soapy water before returning to the clean refrigerator. Return shelves, drawers and food back into refrigerator.

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