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Recently fresh spinach was pulled from supermarket shelves, salad bars and college cafeterias. E. coli contamination managed to turn a nutritious food into a dangerous source of diarrhea. The outbreak came from processing plants in central California. So far, 200 cases have been reported in 26 states. Normally E. coli is harmless. In fact, it's a common intestinal bacteria that we need to make vitamin K, an essential nutrient. What makes this E. coli different? Well, it produces molecules that change our cells and tissues. For example, some of these bacteria produce proteins which cause our intestinal cells to secrete water leading to diarrhea. In some serious cases, the bacteria can enter the blood stream. The spinach E. coli called O157H7 produces a powerful toxin that can cause multi-organ failure and death. Many times though, E. coli stays confined to the gut and although you feel like you could die, the infection clears in about a week. Physicians rarely prescribe antibiotics for bacterial gastrointestinal infections. The bottom line is, they don't reduce the severity or the length of the disease. Should you give in to calls for a total ban on fresh spinach by your child? Absolutely not! But listen for alerts issued by public health organizations like the CDC. In the mean time, continue the struggle to convince your children that vegetables are good for them.

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Pigs Source Of Spinach E. coli Outbreak
Investigators say wild pigs were very likely the source of a spinach E. coli outbreak that caused the death of three people and made over 200 people ill in the USA and Canada.
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FDA Statement on Foodborne E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Spinach
FDA and the State of California announced today that test results from the field investigation of the outbreak of E.coli O157:H7 in spinach are positive for E.coli O157:H7. Samples of cattle feces on one of the implicated ranches tested positive based on matching genetic fingerprints for the same strain of E. coli that sickened 199 people.
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Escherichia coli O157:H7
Infection with E. coli often leads to bloody diarrhea, and occasionally to kidney failure. People can become infected with E.coli O157:H7 in a variety of ways. Though most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef, people have also become ill from eating contaminated bean sprouts or fresh leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach. Person-to-person contact in families and child care centers is also a known mode of transmission.
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E. coli 0157:H7 Bacteria
Illness from E. coli 0157:H7 is due to a toxin made by a virus that lives inside the bacteria.
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