E. coli outbreak, linked to spinach, reaches Tennessee

More than a week after it first began, the E Coli outbreak linked to tainted spinach has reached Tennessee.

Health officials say at least one person in Nashville is sick, possibly from the spinach-related illness.

That means more than half the country is now affected by the E Coli epidemic!

With the first documented case of E-Coli popping up in Tennessee, we went to the experts today about your health and what you need to know.

We checked with minor medical centers and emergency rooms throughout the Mid-South today - the good news is, doctors here have not seen a surge in patients because of the outbreak. But doctors did talk about what symptoms you should be looking for. We want to warn you, though, some of the symptoms are graphic.

The illness stemming from tainted spinach has three specific symptoms. According to Dr. Mary McIntire, with the Baptist Minor Medical Center in Cordova, those symptoms are: fever, abdominal cramps, and bloody diarrhea. Those symptoms similar to other food poisonings.

The symptoms kick in between 3 and 5 days after a patient ingests the form of e. Coli causing all the problems.

E. Coli is actually a common bacteria that lives in everyone's colin. The bacteria in the tainted spinach is a particular strain of e. Coli that produces toxins.

Dr. McIntire tells us, "That toxin can cause damage to your kidneys. And it can also cause, like in the children, the HUS syndrome - hemolytic uremic syndrome. That means you start breaking down your red blood cells. and that causes more damage to the kidneys."

The only way to know for sure if you have the bad e. Coli strain is to test a stool sample.

Dr. McIntire suggests contacting an internist if you have the symptoms.

But, she says, there's no reason to panic. If you catch it early, it's easily treated with antibiotics. Children ages 5 and under and the elderly have the greatest risk of getting sick.