Health officials in Utah and Idaho are investigating whether the death of an Idaho toddler is linked to a recent outbreak of E. coli.
Kyle Algood, 2, of Chubbuck, died Wednesday night at Primary Children's Medical Center. Hospital spokeswoman Bonnie Midget could not provide information on the child's cause of death.
But the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said the little boy died of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a very serious kind of kidney failure that is sometimes a complication of E. coli infection. It is one of E. coli's more rare but potentially deadly complications. The elderly and young children are particularly at risk.
"It points that direction," said Ross Mason, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. But investigators "haven't yet been able to isolate the E. coli in the child."
The Utah Department of Health is running lab tests to see if the child had E. coli, said Cody Craynor, UDOH spokesman. If so, it must still be determined whether the child had the 0157H7 strain linked by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to washed, bagged, "ready-to-eat" spinach in the multistate outbreak.
Craynor said there's no way to predict when all the testing will be completed.
Meanwhile, the national investigation continues into the source of the E. coli outbreak, which sickened at least 146 people including some in Utah, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those, 76 were hospitalized, including 23 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome. A Wisconsin woman died of the E. coli, according to the FDA, which said the CDC keeps getting more reports of illness. The investigation, it noted Wednesday, is "ongoing."
Spinach products have been absent from store shelves and menus nationwide for more than a week as the FDA struggles to isolate the source of the infection. Three companies have currently issued recalls, involving dozens of brand names for spinach products.
The FDA is investigating several farms and processing plants in California, but they're still speculating as to how the spinach might have been infected with the bacteria, which is spread through human or animal waste. Contaminated irrigation water is one suspect, but not the only one.The most recent release from the FDA says it has "no evidence that frozen spinach, canned spinach and spinach included in pre-made meals manufactured by food companies are affected. These products are safe to eat." But it counseled against eating any pre-packaged fresh spinach until more is known.
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