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St. Louis Area E. coli Cases Increase, Still No Source

As local and state health officials investigate an E. coli outbreak, two new cases are reported, but food from local salad bars is testing negative for the bacteria.

UPDATED: Saturday, Nov. 5 - 

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) reports 25 people are now confirmed to have E. coli connected to the St. Louis area investigation.

DHSS also stated in a news release that the four specimens previously sent from Boone County for E. coli testing have all been tested and all four tested positive for E. coli. At this point, DHSS states that it does not appear that the Boone County cases are connected to the St. Louis cases.  

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As the St. Louis County Department of Health investigates an E. coli outbreak, health officials are looking into reports that some of the infected patients purchased and ate food from  stores prior to falling ill. However, all of the food tested from the store is negative for the bacteria so far.

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The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory confirms 24 cases of e. coli in Missouri related to the St. Louis area outbreak. The cases began being reported last week as people began falling ill.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has been leading a team of local, federal, and state public health experts investigating the E. coli outbreak, the DHSS stated in a news release.

The Missouri State Public Health Laboratory received and is testing additional food samples collected from five Schnuck's stores, the DHSS stated in a news release. Those food samples include: Bistro Salad Dressing, broccoli florets, deviled eggs, diced hard boiled eggs, honey Dijon dressing, Italian dressing, pineapple chunks, red wine vinaigrette, shredded carrots, shredded radishes, shredded zucchini, and sliced red onions. The following packaged salads that included salad bar ingredients are also being tested: Bistro Chopped Salad, Fresco House Salad, Fried Chicken Salad, Garden Salad, Italian Salad, and Turkey Cobb Salad. 

Late Thursday, DHSS released the following information:

 

  • Number of individuals confirmed to have E. coli connected to the St. Louis investigation is 24.

 

 

  • Number of food samples, connected to the St. Louis outbreak, tested to date is 55.

 

 

  • Number of food samples confirmed to have E. coli is 0. These results are final for 17 samples, but are only preliminary for 38 samples. 

 

St. Louis County health officials tell Patch that of the people infected with E. coli that have already been interviewed, 20 reported having eaten something from a Schnucks, while 17 reported having eaten something from a Schnucks salad bar. 

"Food safety inspectors .... have been to several Schnuck’s stores and warehouses, and have not found conditions in those locations that would allow E. coli to contaminate food held there for sale or distribution," the DHSS previously stated. "The investigators have therefore enlisted the assistance of the Federal Food and Drug Administration as they move further up the distribution chain, which could include distributors and/or producers located outside of Missouri."

DHSS stated Thursday that the state lab has received four specimens from Boone County for E. coli testing and three of those tested positive. One is still pending. At this point, it does not appear that the Boone County cases are connected to the St. Louis cases, DHSS stated. 

Schnucks is deferring customers with questions about the E. coli outbreak to the St. Louis County Health Department at 314-615-1600.

Public health officials urge anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea or nausea, to seek medical attention, the DHSS stated.

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