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Outbreak News

Beef recall not tied to local cases

E. coli reported in meat in four Western states and Canada.

By Barbara Anderson

The Fresno Bee

06/05/07

The recall of 75,000 pounds of ground beef appears to have no connection to a recent E. coli outbreak among Fresno County residents, health officials said Monday afternoon.

State health officials said three Southern Californians were among 12 people in Western states who tested positive for E. coli from ground beef believed to be contaminated with the bacteria.

The other cases associated with the ground beef were in Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Alberta, Canada, a state health official said.

Fresno County has been investigating an E. coli outbreak since May 26. Thus far, 15 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 have been identified in the county. One man remained in the hospital Monday with kidney complications from the infection.

Ground beef was not a prevalent food item in connection with the county's E. coli investigation, said Tim Casagrande, director of Fresno County's environmental health services department.

At least five of the affected people were at a private party on May 19, county officials have said. A food supplier for the party also provided food for two other private gatherings the same day, they said.

But no one food item has been associated with the outbreak, Casagrande said Monday. Tri-tip, rice pilaf, salads and bread products, among other food items, are part of the investigation, he said.

The county is waiting for results from human and food samples sent to the state laboratory in Richmond for analysis, said David Luchini, communicable disease division manager.

The county hopes to have results this week of tests for E. coli O157:H7, a particularly virulent strain, Luchini said.

E. coli, which is short for Escherichia coli, is a bacteria that lives in the lower intestines of animals and is excreted in feces.

Patti Roberts, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Health Services, said in the cases of the recalled ground beef, E. coli O157:H7 with a rare DNA fingerprint pattern was identified using a federal Centers for Disease and Prevention system -- the same method used to identify the bacteria in a multistate spinach E. coli outbreak last year.

People became ill between April 25 and May 2, Roberts said.

Most of the ground beef products were sold at Albertsons stores in California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming and Save-A-Lot stores in Arizona, California and Nevada.

Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramps that may be severe and diarrhea that may turn bloody within one to three days. E. coli sometimes can lead to complications including kidney failure.

The Fresno County health department said people experiencing symptoms should call their physicians.

To reach the Fresno County Department of Community Health, call (559) 445-3529.

More on this outbreak: United Food Group E. coli Outbreak

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