CU-Boulder Student Suspected Of E. Coli Illness After Eating Spinach
Share Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Published: Sept. 14, 2006 A University of Colorado at Boulder student who lives off campus and ate bagged spinach is suspected of falling ill to E. coli related to the national outbreak of the disease, according to Wardenburg Health Center officials. The student was confirmed with a case of E. coli 0157 after first noticing symptoms last weekend. However, it is not yet known whether the student’s strain of E. coli has the same genetic fingerprint as the outbreak type. The male student is recovering at home but may be linked to the national outbreak because he reported eating spinach before the onset of his symptoms, said Bob Cranny, director of the campus’s Wardenburg Health Center. Lab tests for the student are currently being confirmed by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Cranny said. A second CU-Boulder student who lives off campus is having symptoms and is suspected of having the illness. There may be others, said Cranny. CU-Boulder’s Housing and Dining Services has removed pre-washed and bagged spinach from all of its campus dining halls and other campus dining facilities to prevent spread of the illness. No student living on campus is suspected of having E. coli at this time, Cranny said. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 14 advised against eating fresh, bagged spinach due to an ongoing outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7, which has caused illness in at least 50 people in nine states. People who have bagged spinach should throw it away. The number of cases nationwide may climb as the incubation period for the disease is generally between three to four days, but can be as early as two days and may be as long as eight days. People who have consumed any pre-washed, bagged spinach and who develop watery, sometimes bloody diarrhea or have abdominal cramping or vomiting, should consult with his or her health-care provider, Cranny said. About one-third of affected people develop fevers. The disease is generally mild in adults, but can be severe and debilitating in the very young, under 5 years, and the elderly. Infections with E.coli 0157:H7 can generally last between five and 10 days. People who have any gastrointestinal illness, or who have been diagnosed with E.coli 0157:H7, should maintain good hygiene because the illness can be passed to others by contaminating food or objects placed in the mouth. E. coli is not spread through airborne droplets by coughing or sneezing. Hand washing is important, especially after using the bathroom. People who experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or any other stomach ailment should attempt to maintain fluid levels by drinking plenty of water or other liquids with electrolytes and should refrain from preparing food for others. They also should refrain from caring for very young children. Anyone who experiences severe vomiting, diarrhea or other symptoms and cannot maintain hydration through intake of fluids should contact their health-care provider immediately, Cranny said. E.coli 0157:H7 infections are generally not treated with antibiotics because antibiotics can increase the release of toxic compounds from dead or dying bacteria, thereby increasing the risk for more severe symptoms, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome that can cause kidney problems or failure. More information is posted on the Web at www.colorado.edu/healthcenter/.