September 24, 2021

Raw Sprout Outbreak Grows to 14 Cases in Six States

Today, two new cases of foodborne illness were added to an outbreak linked to raw clover sprouts. The cases were confirmed in Michigan, adding a new state to the case load. The Centers for Disease Control updated the outbreak on Friday, February 24, 2012.

Genetic fingerprinting of the bacteria that caused the illness, identified as STEC 026 (Shiga toxin E. coli 026)  has linked all of the cases together. Both of the new patients said they ate raw sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants the week before they got sick.

The case count as of Friday, February 24, 2012 is:

  • Arkansas (1)
  • Iowa (5)
  • Kansas (2)
  • Michigan (2)
  • Missouri (3)
  • Wisconsin (1)

All of the patients are female; two have been hospitalized. The age range is from 9 to 49 years old; the median patient age is 25. Illness onset dates range from December 25, 2011 to February 1, 2012. No patient has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and no deaths have been reported. Illnesses that occurred after February 4, 2012 may not be reported yet because it takes time after a person becomes ill to report that illness.

The CDC stated, “Preliminary results of the epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicate eating raw clover sprouts at Jimmy John’s restaurants is the likely cause of this outbreak.”

Because Michigan today released a warning about raw clover sprouts in general, a common lot of clover seeds may be the source. The CDC said the traceback sprout implicated sprouts grown at two separate facilities. Both of the facilities supplied sprouts to Jimmy John’s. The facilities were told by the supplier on February 10, 2012 to stop using the seeds. The CDC and the FDA are trying to identify other facilities that may have grown sprouts from this particular lot.

Last year, the Jimmy John’s franchise switched to clover sprouts from alfalfa sprouts to try to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Now, Jimmy John’s, along with other restaurants, has decided to stop serving raw sprouts altogether.

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