Seed Source Identified for E Coli Outbreaks Linked to Sprouts

Seed source identified for E. coli outbreaks linked to sprouts

News RX

Health & Medicine Week

Page 1052

2005 AUG 8


Investigators have identified a common seed source for temporally distinct Escherichia coli 0157 outbreaks associated with alfalfa sprouts.


Escherichia coli 0157 outbreaks were identified in Minnesota in February 2003 involving seven persons and in Colorado in July 2003 involving 13 persons. Case isolates from the two states had matching pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. Independent case-control studies linked infections in each outbreak with eating alfalfa sprouts that were traced to the same seed distributor,” scientists in the United States report.


“The Colorado sprouter reportedly complied with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sprout guidance, whereas the Minnesota sprouter did not,” said Dayna Devon Ferguson at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and collaborators in the U.S. “These investigations revealed that increased compliance with existing FDA guidance is needed and that additional research is needed to improve the alfalfa seed decontamination process. This reaffirms the FDA recommendation that raw alfalfa sprouts should be considered potentially contaminated and avoided by persons at high-risk such as the elderly, young children, and immunocompromised persons.”


The researchers concluded, “PFGE played an essential role in linking these two temporally and geographically distinct E. coli 0157 outbreaks.”


Ferguson and associates published their study in Epidemiology and Infection(Temporally distinctEscherichia coli 0157 outbreaks associated with alfalfa sprouts linked to a common seed source-Colorado and Minnesota, 2003, 2003. Epidemiol Infect, 2005;133(3):439-47).


From SproutNet:  Other articles related to those outbreaks:

“E. coli 0157 NM Summary”  Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Stuart T. Brown, M.D., Director

“An Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:Nonmotile Associated with Alfalfa Sprouts – Colorado, July 2003” DD Ferguson, MD, A Cronquist, MPH, J Scheftel, DVM, MPH, A Woo-Ming, K Gershman, MD, MPH, J Knutsen, AK De, PhD

“Escherichia coli 0157 Infection and Hemolytic Uremit Syndrome (HUS), 2003”Minnesota Department of Health, Disease Control Newsletter

“Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:NM Associated Alfalfa Sprout Consumption Colorado, 2003” Dayna Ferguson, MD, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, CDPHE

“E. coli O157:H7 Infections Associated with Alfalfa Sprouts January (2003) ~ Hennepin and Ramsey Counties” Minnesota Department of Health 2003 Gastroenteritis Outbreak Summary.

“Temporally distinct Escherichia coli 0157 outbreaks associated with alfalfa sprouts linked to a common seed source–Colorado and Minnesota, 2003.” Epidemiol Infect. 2005 Jun;133(3):439-47, Ferguson DD, Scheftel J, Cronquist A, Smith K, Woo-Ming A, Anderson E, Knutsen J, De AK, Gershman K., Epidemic Intelligence Service, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver, CO 80246, USA.