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CDC reported today that the number of victims confirmed to be infected with E. coli O26 after consuming raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants has risen to 14 people in 6 states.

Michigan was the latest state to be added to the outbreak map, with two confirmed cases reported in early February. The Michigan Department of Community Health reports that an additional five cases are under investigation. All seven people consumed raw sprouts at sandwich shops in mid and southeast Michigan.

The Michigan confirmed and suspected victims range in age from 19 to 50 years old. Two of the seven were hospitalized. While the Michigan public health alert makes it clear that these cases of E. coli O26 are part of the 6-state Jimmy John’s outbreak, the department is warning Michigonians to avoid the consumption of raw clover sprouts, regardless of the source or venue, until more information about the source of the contamination is available. The Michigan Department of Agriculture is investigating.

As of today’s report, outbreak illnesses are confirmed in Iowa (5), Missouri (3), Kansas (2), Michigan (2), Arkansas (1) and Wisconsin (1). Outbreak victims range from 9 to 49 years old. All of the 14 confirmed victims are female. Illness onset dates range from December 25, 2011 to February 7, 2012. The onset dates for the seven Michigan cases (2 confirmed + 5 under investigation) range from February 6th to 12th.

E. coli O26 is a Shiga-toxin producing E. coli, and causes illness similar to that caused by infections with E. coli O157:H7. The most common symptoms are acute diarrhea (often bloody), and abdominal cramps. While young children and the elderly are susceptible to developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) as a result of an infection with a shiga-toxin producing E. coli, there have not yet been any reports of HUS in this outbreak.

FDA has been conducting a traceback investigation, and reported the following updated information today:

  • The traceback investigation involving iceberg lettuce found no common source to link that commodity to the ongoing outbreak.
  • FDA has determined that the common seed lot identified (lot SCCTSX) was distributed nationwide.
  • On February 10, the seed supplier of the common seed lot identified agreed to notify its customers to remove the lot in question from distribution. On February 13, the supplier informed FDA that notification of all customers was complete and that instructions had been given to return any of the seed lot in question to the supplier.
  • FDA continues to monitor the removal of the seed lot in question from the supply chain.
  • Sprouts have a short shelf life (2-3 weeks). It is unlikely that sprouts produced from the seed lot in question are currently in the marketplace.

Jimmy Johns announced on February 17th that it has permanently removed raw clover sprouts from its menu.

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