November 03, 2011

** Nov 3, 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.

Numbers Update - October 7 to November 3

Number of individuals confirmed to have E. coli connected to the St. Louis investigation: 24

Number of food samples, connected to the St. Louis outbreak, tested to date: 55

Number of food samples confirmed to have E. coli (for 17 samples, these results are final; for 38 samples, these are preliminary screening results): 0

Since yesterday's update, two new cases based on samples previously received at the State Public Health Laboratory have been confirmed and added; however, four cases previously thought to be connected have been determined upon further interview and analysis to be not connected to the St. Louis outbreak.

DHSS continues to work closely with a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC has set up a case study by contacting individuals in neighborhoods where patients have been identified. The case control study will enable investigators to compare data from participants with those who have become sick.

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. Yesterday, inspectors from the FDA arrived in St. Louis to assist in the inspection of facilities that may have been part of the distribution chain.

DHSS can also confirm that the State Lab has received four specimens from Boone County for E. coli testing. Three have tested positive; one is still pending. DHSS scientists are working with health officials in Boone County to investigate those cases in the same way that the St. Louis cases have been handled. At this point, it does not appear that the Boone County cases are connected to the St. Louis cases.

The State Lab has performed preliminary screening on 38 food samples it received on Tuesday night. Preliminary tests on all samples were negative for E. coli. Further testing is being done to confirm these results.

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 again 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 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.