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Friday, September 15, 2006 

Ohio, Kentucky Report E. Coli Outbreaks Related to Spinach

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio and Kentucky were added to the list of states wtih E. coli breakouts related to tainted bags of fresh spinich, bringing the nation's total 10 states reporting illnesses. One fatality has been reported so far.

Seven people who ate bagged spinach have E. coli, Ohio health officials.

Testing found infections in six people in central Ohio and one person in a southwest county, and all of them said in interviews that they had eaten packaged spinach, said Bret Atkins, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health.

Ohio is the ninth state to report cases of E. coli, linked by Food and Drug Administration officials to bagged spinach. One death occurred in Wisconsin.

No deaths have been reported in Ohio. One person infected in Franklin County, which includes Columbus, has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, in which the red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail, Atkins said.

It was unclear how many those infected had been hospitalized. Their ages range from 15 to 46.

Federal health officials have been advising consumers to throw away all fresh bagged spinach because it may be tainted.

"We need to strive to do even better so even one life is not lost," said Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, FDA's acting commissioner.

The FDA warned people not to eat bagged spinach and said washing it wouldn't solve the problem because the bacteria is too tightly attached.

"If you wash it, it is not going to get rid of it," said Robert Brackett, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Nutrition.

The original outbreak was reported Thursday in eight states. Ohio became the ninth Friday, with health officials reporting seven cases there.

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