We have learned that in the next few hours a press release will be issued from the CDC, FDA, and State Health Departments to alert the public to an ongoing outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that has been linked to contaminated spinach.  This outbreak appears to involve several states, including Wisconsin, Utah, Oregon and New Mexico.  At least two dozen people, including small children, have been confirmed as victims of what appears to be the largest nationwide outbreak that I can recall.  It seems certainly larger and more geographically diverse than other outbreaks involving lettuce and spinach.  See my post from last night.

Although not one supplier in particular is expected to be named as one of the suppliers of the spinach, we know of at least one family in Wisconsin and one in Oregon that purchased and consumed Dole spinach.  In the Wisconsin case, two children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life threatening disease caused by E. coli O157:H7. 

In addition, the Oregon client purchased Dole brand baby spinach on August 21, 2006 and consumed the spinach in salads over several days during the week of August 21 through August 25. She became ill with symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection, including diarrhea and stomach cramping, on August 25. Her symptoms continued to worsen, and her husband took her to the emergency room at Salem Hospital in the early morning hours of August 27. Our client was treated and released, but was admitted to Salem Hospital after a second visit to the emergency room at midday on the 27th. She remained hospitalized at Salem Hospital for six days, and was transferred to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) in Portland on September 2 after being diagnosed with HUS.  While at OHSU, our client required at least four blood transfusions and eight plasmapheresis exchanges. She was discharged from OHSU on September 8, and continues her recovery at home.

So the new news is that – Dole sued by Oregon E. coli victim:

PORTLAND, OR (September 14, 2006) – An E. coli lawsuit was filed against Dole late Thursday in United States District Court for the District of Oregon. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Gwyn Wellborn, a Salem, Oregon woman who became ill with an E. coli O157:H7 infection after eating Dole brand baby spinach.

It is great to see that the FDA confirms that there are now over 50  people as part of this outbreak.