November 02, 2011
**UPDATE** Department of Health and Senior Services updates status of investigation into E. coli outbreak in St. Louis region
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is leading a team of local, federal, and state public health experts in investigating the cause of the E. coli outbreak that has hit the St. Louis region. The investigation involves laboratory analysis, environmental sampling and interviews of reported cases. This information is then combined to determine the possible cause(s) of the outbreak.
The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory last night received an additional 38 food samples collected from five Schnucks stores as a result of patient interviews. Testing of those samples is currently underway. The 38 food samples on which testing began today include: Bistro Salad Dressing, broccoli florets, deviled eggs, diced hard boiled eggs, honey Dijon dressing, Italian dressing, pineapple chunks, red wine vinaigrette, shredded carrots, shredded radishes, shredded zucchini, sliced red onions, and the following packaged salads that included salad bar ingredients: Bistro Chopped Salad, Fresco House Salad, Fried Chicken Salad, Garden Salad, Italian Salad, and Turkey Cobb Salad. Additional food samples are being collected and tested as the investigation continues.
To date, the State Lab is testing or has tested 51 samples from individuals suspected to have the illness. So far, DHSS can report that 26 individuals have laboratory-confirmed E. coli illness. The completion of testing on remaining samples continues.
DHSS continues to work closely with a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition to the assistance that CDC scientists in St. Louis have been providing, the CDC this evening will stand up a call center based out of Atlanta, Georgia to assist with the case control study. The case control study will compare what the people who became ill ate with what was consumed by individuals that did not become ill. This will enhance efforts to identify food(s) which may be the source of the E. coli. The call center will contact residents in neighborhoods where patients have been identified using random digit dialing.
DHSS has been working in consultation with the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and enlisted additional assistance when it became known that products were obtained from distributors and/or producers located outside of Missouri. Today, inspectors from the FDA arrived in St. Louis to assist in the inspection of facilities that may have been part of the distribution chain.
As the investigation progresses, the investigators are also providing updates to hospitals and health care professionals in the region. These updates include diagnosis and treatment recommendations.
Public health officials urge consumers to always wash all produce thoroughly with water before eating, cook meat thoroughly, and always wash their hands after using the restroom. For additional food safety tips, visit health.mo.gov.
Public health officials continue to urge anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea or nausea, to seek medical attention.