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Idaho links toddler's death to spinach

Oct 6, 2006 | AP

Health officials confirmed that a second death that of a 2-year-old boy can be attributed to contaminated fresh spinach that prompted a nationwide consumer warning.

Kyle Allgood, who died from kidney failure last month, had been infected with the same strain of the E. coli bacteria that was identified in the outbreak, health officials said Thursday.

"This confirms what we suspected for quite some time," said Ross Mason, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Contaminated spinach also killed an elderly Wisconsin woman and sickened at least 190 other people.

The toddler died Sept. 20 in Salt Lake City after developing a type of kidney failure caused by E. coli. Health officials had to wait for the results of genetic testing on the bacteria to determine whether his illness was from spinach.

The sample taken from the boy was fairly small, so technicians had to let it grow for several days at a laboratory before analyzing it, officials said.

The toddler fell ill after having a fresh spinach smoothie, according to his mother.

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration lifted a two-week consumer warning on fresh spinach. On Wednesday, the FBI searched two California produce companies for evidence of possible felony violations of federal environmental laws. Agents sifted through records for indications that the spinach producers skirted proper food-handling procedures.

E. coli lives in the intestines of cattle and other animals and typically is linked to contamination by fecal material. It causes an estimated 73,000 infections each year in the United States, including 61 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sources can include uncooked produce, raw milk, unpasteurized juice, contaminated water and meat, the agency said.

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