The CDC announced this week a total of 12 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O26 have been reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (5), Missouri (3), Kansas (2), Arkansas (1), and Wisconsin (1). Among persons for whom information is available, illness onset dates range from December 25, 2011 to January 15, 2012. Ill persons range in age from 9 years to 49 years old, with a median age of 25 years old. One hundred percent of ill persons are female. Among the 12 ill persons, 2 (17%) were hospitalized. None have developed HUS, and no deaths have been reported. Preliminary results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants is the likely cause of this outbreak.
Between September 16, 2008, and October 4, 2008, Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) received a total of 19 confirmed and suspect cases of Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC) O157:NM. Of those cases, 14 were lab confirmed to have matching PFGE patterns, and the pattern was unlike any other reported outbreak. Because most of the cases in this outbreak became ill at a Boulder Jimmy John’s Restaurant, Boulder County Public Health lead the investigation into the outbreak. Ultimately, in addition to the 19 confirmed Boulder County cases, one case was identified in each of the following counties: Arapahoe, Broomfield, Jefferson and Weld. BCPH reported: “Of the cases not in Boulder County, 2 of 4 (50%) reported eating food from a Jimmy John’s restaurant—one at the sorority house and one at a Jimmy John’s restaurant located in Adams County, Colorado. All 17 cases (100%) in Boulder County reported eating food from Jimmy John’s restaurant located in Boulder.” Based on their detailed traceback investigation, investigators ultimately found that one company, Sprouts Extraordinaire, had supplied alfalfa sprouts to not only the Boulder Jimmy John’s, but also the Federal Height’s (Adams County) Jimmy John’s, as well as the Pita Pit in Greeley, Colorado, where another PFGE matched case had consumed sprouts two days before onset of illness.