November 11, 2011

** Nov. 11, 2011 UPDATE ** State health department 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 case interviews. This information is then combined to determine the possible cause(s) of the outbreak.

Numbers Update - October 7 to November 11
Number of individuals confirmed to have E. coli connected to the St. Louis investigation: 32
Number of food samples, connected to the St. Louis outbreak, tested to date: 55
Number of food samples confirmed to have E. coli: 0

DHSS added one new case today based on a specimen collected on November 3, 2011. Another specimen collected November 2, 2011 tested positive for the strain of E. coli observed in the outbreak, including the specific "fingerprint" analysis. However, that individual is considered a "secondary case" - one caused by exposure to an individual with the illness, not by exposure to the source of the illness. Secondary cases are common in outbreaks, and of course require the same medical attention as primary cases. But secondary cases by their nature do not give investigators additional information about the source of the outbreak. E. coli illness can be transmitted from person to person; however, the contact must be very close. E. coli may only be transmitted by contact with the fecal matter of a sick individual. This can occur through the care of someone who is ill, such as when changing soiled linens or diapers. It can also occur through improper handwashing.

Public health officials again urge consumers to wash all produce thoroughly with water before eating, cook meat thoroughly, and wash their hands after using the restroom. For additional food safety tips and more information on E. coli illness and investigation, visit .

Public health officials continue to urge anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea or nausea, to seek medical attention.