Federal officials are warning the public about a new E. coli outbreak traced to clover sprouts on sandwiches from Jimmy John’s restaurants. More than a dozen people across five states have been confirmed as infected.
“We are advising consumers who may have recently eaten sprouts at Jimmy John’s to monitor for symptoms of an E. coli infection and consumers should contact their health care provider if they have experienced common foodborne illness symptoms,” according to today’s warning from the Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response Frank Yiannas.
“If consumers have a leftover sandwich with clover sprouts from Jimmy John’s, do not eat it and throw it away.”
The FDA released information about the new outbreak of E. coli O103 infections a day after posting an update on another E. coli O103 outbreak that was also traced to clover sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches. That outbreak sickened 22 people in Iowa in November and December 2019.
The new outbreak has sickened 14 people across five states — Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Texas and Utah. The 14 new cases are not associated with the Iowa outbreak, which the FDA referenced in a warning letter issued to Jimmy John’s in recent days and posted yesterday, Feb. 25.
FDA’s Yiannas said the new illnesses “underscore the seriousness of the issue as we work with Jimmy John’s to prevent outbreaks like these in the future.”
The agency reports that the fast-food chain stopped serving clover sprouts at all of its restaurants as of two days ago on Feb. 24. That move appears to be in response to the warning letter, which detailed five outbreaks traced to sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches.
“The FDA has activated a team to coordinate this outbreak investigation. This team is currently collecting records and initiating a traceback investigation to determine the source of the clover sprouts,” according to the FDA’s outbreak announcement.
“Authorities are investigating whether implicated sprouts have been distributed elsewhere and will continue monitoring for additional illnesses.”
The outbreak in late 2019 was linked to sprouts from Sprouts Unlimited. Today’s announcement did not name a supplier.
About E. coli infections
Anyone who has eaten any Jimmy John’s sandwiches and developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5 percent to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.
People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.
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