First spinach-related E. coli case in Illinois

By The Associated Press

CHICAGO – An elderly woman has been hospitalized with kidney failure related to her eating tainted spinach, marking the first confirmed illness in Illinois linked to an outbreak of E. coli in the leafy green vegetable, state public health officials said Monday.

The woman, who lives in north-central Illinois, became ill in late August and is now hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, which is a form of kidney failure that can be associated with the strain of E. coli linked to the tainted spinach, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

Residents are being advised to stay away from spinach and products containing spinach.

“Anyone who thinks they may have experienced symptoms of illness after eating fresh spinach or products containing spinach are urged to contact their health care provider and local health department,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, the state’s public health director.

The LaSalle County Public Department said state public health officials confirmed Monday that a woman in their area tested positive for the strain of E. coli linked to the bad spinach.

Jenny Barrie, a spokeswoman for the county’s health department, could provide no other information about the woman but said officials have asked local hospitals to be on the lookout for other possible cases.

Area grocery stores and restaurants have also been instructed to throw away spinach products, she added.

Federal health officials said Monday they were continuing to search for the source of the contamination, which has killed one person and sickened more than 100 others across the nation.

The FBI says it is monitoring the situation as a precautionary measure.

On Sunday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they’ve started an Atlanta-based emergency operations center to help state health agencies with E. coli testing.