CU dining halls pull spinach, health officials advise caution
Two cases of E. coli have been reported on campus after a recent contamination of spinach.
The two cases are part of a recent outbreak around the country which resulted when cow manure seeped into packaged spinach at a California factory.
“We are now waiting for results from the state public health department to confirm whether it is the same E. coli with regards to the outbreak of the spinach,” Director of Wardenburg Health Center Robert A. Cranny said of the campus cases.
The two students went to seek medical help after eating spinach when they developed the symptoms of E. coli, which include diarrhea, fever, nausea and headaches.
“Symptoms can be present for five to 10 days. The incubation period for E. coli is three to four days, although some individuals have symptoms as long as eight days after they consume spinach,” Cranny said.
Some students are finding that their meals are sometimes affected by the outbreak.
“I had a cheeseburger with spinach lettuce this weekend, and I didn’t even think about it because it was at a tailgate, but a friend warned me,” said Jake Giehl, a senior communications major.
Students around campus have not been totally informed about the outbreak in California or the cases on campus. Monica Rude, a freshman advertising major and Iasseu Nadiuitou, a freshman environmental design major, said that they have not heard about any cases in Boulder.
“It’s kind of scary because you think it’s not going to happen to you, but it’s a possibility,” said Giehl.
Wardenburg has taken immediate action after hearing about the E. coli outbreak last Thursday, Cranny said.
“Our housing and dining services were very proactive, and they pulled all of their spinach products off of their menus last Thursday once they heard about this issue,” Cranny said.
Students infected with E. coli are being treated without the use of antibiotics because the antibiotics break down the E. coli and release toxins, which harm the body and worsen symptoms.
“(Wardenburg) gives them anti-nausea medication and tries to re-hydrate them with IV fluids and educate them on preventing the spread and make sure they get enough rest,” Cranny said.
The best way for students to protect themselves from E. coli is to wash their hands. The proper way to wash hands is to use soap and warm water, be sure to completely wash the front and back of the hands and get near the fingernails.
“They recommend that you (wash your hands) for as long as it takes you to sing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’ or ‘Happy Birthday,'” Cranny said.
Also, students can use hand-sanitizing gel.
E. coli is not typically fatal for college-aged students, but is for children under five and for the elderly.
“We are telling students that are babysitting or that nanny that if they have these symptoms to stay away from children. If students have gastro-intestinal symptoms or any of the classic E. coli symptoms, they should not be preparing food for others.”