As of Feb. 2, the CDC has issued an investigation notice into an ongoing E. coli outbreak across the United States. So far, the multi-state outbreak has already resulted in 16 confirmed cases, 9 hospitalizations and one death. Currently, the CDC have yet to identify the cause. The confirmed cases were seen in five states: Washington, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Virginia, and New York.
“Sick people range in age from 10 to 95 years, with a median age of 31, and 88% are female. Of 12 people with information available, 9 have been hospitalized. Of 11 people with information, 3 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). One death has been reported from Washington,” the CDC writes. “State and local public health officials are interviewing people to find out what foods they ate in the week before they got sick.”
For now, whole genome sequencing (WGS) was performed by the CDC on bacteria from people who got sick. The results showed that patients in this outbreak likely got sick from eating the same food.
The WGS also showed that this outbreak strain has been previously linked to various sources, including romaine lettuce and recreational water. But more information is needed to identify the source of this outbreak.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- Bloody diarrhea
- So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Not urinating (peeing) much
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe E. coli symptoms. The CDC also offers the following food safety tips to prevent an E. coli infection:
- Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often. Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or peeling.
- Separate: Keep food that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
- Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure you have cooked your food to a temperature high enough to kill germs.
- Chill: Refrigerate foods that go bad quickly. Thaw food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.