Don't pass the spinach

The US Food and Drug Administration just announced an E. Coli outbreak in eight states. There has been one death and about 50 people who have been made sick by this infection. The outbreak has been linked to bagged spinach and the FDA is advising avoiding it.

There's a cheap spinach joke in there somewhere, but I'm not going to take it. Hardly anyone dies from the E. Coli O157:H7 bug. That's why this story is alarming to me.

The Centers for Disease Control has good information on O157:H7 here:

Escherichia coli O157:H7 is an emerging cause of foodborne illness. An estimated 73,000 cases of infection and 61 deaths occur in the United States each year. Infection often leads to bloody diarrhea, and occasionally to kidney failure. Most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef. Person-to-person contact in families and child care centers is also an important mode of transmission. Infection can also occur after drinking raw milk and after swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water...

Most persons recover without antibiotics or other specific treatment in 5-10 days. There is no evidence that antibiotics improve the course of disease, and it is thought that treatment with some antibiotics may precipitate kidney complications. Antidiarrheal agents, such as loperamide (Imodium), should also be avoided.

Personally, I've never taken care of anyone with this infection. But, in reading about it and in talking with some physicians, you definitely do not want this. Hopefully, this outbreak will be brought under control soon, and the amount of illness will be limited.