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Sprouts linked to E. coli-related illnesses

— State health officials are warning consumers not to eat raw clover sprouts from an Idaho producer.

The sprouts are linked to seven confirmed and three probable cases of E.coli 0121 illnesses in Washington and Idaho, officials said, noting five people have been hospitalized.

Five cases were reported in Spokane County, two in King County, and three in Kootenai County, Idaho, officials said.

An initial investigation shows a "strong link" from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC, at restaurants to the cases, officials said.

The contaminated sprouts were served in Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches locations in King and Spokane counties, two Pita Pit locations in Spokane County, and Daanen’s Deli and Jimmy John’s in Kootenai County, officials said, adding those restaurants have voluntarily suspended serving the sprouts.

The sprouts are also available at other northwest restaurants and grocery stores, officials said.

“We advise people not to eat raw clover sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts until further notice,” State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said. “If you have these products at home, you should throw them out.”

The source of the sprout seed hasn’t yet been determined and remains under investigation.

The type of E. coli in this outbreak is a strain of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC O121) similar to E. coli O157:H7. It can cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever and vomiting. It can sometimes result in severe, life-threatening illness and may be fatal.

“Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating contaminated sprouts should consult their health care provider,” Lofy said. “The elderly and very young children are more likely to become severely ill from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection.”

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