The Food and Drug Administration’s investigation of an outbreak of E. coli 0103 in clover sprouts has been completed, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has declared that the outbreak is over.

The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, investigated 51 illnesses caused by E. coli 0103 associated with the sprouts. Three of the patients had to be hospitalized. There were no deaths. The reported illnesses were in 10 states — Florida with 1, Idaho 1, Iowa 3, Illinois 7, Missouri 1, New York 1, Texas 1, Utah 34, Virginia 1, Wyoming 1. The most recent patient had an illness onset date of March 15.

The FDA’s analysis of Chicago Indoor Garden’s, Mar. 16, 2020, recalled sprout product identified the presence of E. coli 0103. Whole Genome Sequencing of this bacteria showed that it matched the outbreak strain.

“The sample also matches the outbreak strain from the November-December 2019 outbreak in Iowa, which was associated with sprouts from various Jimmy John’s restaurants,” according to the agency’s update.

On March 16 Chicago Indoor Garden recalled all products containing red clover sprouts. The best-by dates of the recalled products ended on March 12, but the CDC advised consumers, restaurants and retailers to not eat, serve or sell recalled products containing sprouts from Chicago Indoor Garden.

The CDC reported the following outbreak details:

  • Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 79 years, with a median age of 29. 
  • 55 percent of ill people were female.
  • 18 of 32  people, 56 percent, interviewed reported eating sprouts. 
  • 17 of 27 people, 63 percent,  interviewed reported eating sprouts at a Jimmy John’s restaurant.

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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