Brian Tumulty of the Gannett News Service authored an article this morning confirming what has been a well-known secret over the last several weeks – California’s Central Valley lettuce cited in both Taco Bell and Taco John’s E. coli illnesses

Brian noted that the FDA announced on Friday that the infected Taco Bell lettuce originated places the source in the same general region as the lettuce that sickened people at Taco John’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 71 people became ill – 53 were hospitalized – as a result of eating at Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania between late November and mid-December. Eight of those affected developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a form of kidney failure, according to CDC reports filed with the FDA.  Marler Clark represents 17 cases in this outbreak with three lawsuits filed.

In the Taco John’s E. coli outbreak, 81 victims, including 26 who were hospitalized – two of whom developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome – ate in restaurants in Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, according to CDC reports filed with the FDA.  Marler Clark represents 10 cases in this outbreak with three lawsuits filed as well.

And, then there is Spinach.  According to the CDC, 204 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported to CDC from 26 states.

Among the ill persons, 102 were hospitalized and 31 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). One hundred forty-one were female and 22 were children under 5 years old. The proportion of persons who developed HUS was 29% in children, 8% in persons 18 to 59 years old, and 14% in persons 60 years old or older.

Three deaths in confirmed cases have been associated with the outbreak. One was in an elderly woman from Wisconsin. Yesterday, Idaho confirmed that stool samples from a 2-year-old child with HUS who died on September 20 contained E. coli O157 with a “DNA fingerprint” pattern that matches the outbreak strain. Today, Nebraska reported the death of an elderly woman with an illness compatible with E. coli O157 infection who consumed raw spinach; E. coli O157 with the outbreak strain “DNA fingerprint” was detected in the remaining spinach.  Maryland is investigating a suspect case in an elderly woman who died on September 13 and had recently consumed fresh spinach. E. coli O157 was cultured from her stool, but “DNA fingerprinting” has not been possible.