Public health officials investigate a “rapid” outbreak of Escherichia colior E colithat has sickened at least 15 people in Michigan and 14 in Ohio, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced (opens in new tab) Wednesday (17 Aug.).
So far, nine of the 29 infected have had to be hospitalized, but no one has died.
the tension of E coli that appears to be causing the outbreak are known as: E coli O157:H7. This type of bacteria produces a poison called Shiga toxin that can cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal cramps, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. the CDC stated: (opens in new tab). In some cases, E coli O157:H7 infections can lead to a serious complication called haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which affects the red blood cells and kidneys and can lead to kidney failure and death, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine (opens in new tab). Children and the elderly have an increased risk of HUS.
Public health officials are now working to identify any additional cases of illness linked to the outbreak, while also interviewing people about the foods they ate in the week before they got sick. The food source of the outbreak has yet to be identified, but based on the DNA from E coli sampled from infected individuals, it’s likely they all got sick from eating the same food, because the bacterial strains appear very closely related, the CDC said.
Related: These volunteers drank E. coli-laced water and got diarrhea, for science
some recent E coli cases in Michigan and Ohio have yet to be added to the CDC’s PulseNet system, a national database of DNA fingerprints from bacteria that cause foodborne illness, so the CDC’s numbers are expected to increase rapidly. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has received 98 reports of: E coli infection in August, compared with just 20 cases reported over the same period in 2021, according to a pronunciation (opens in new tab).
“While reports of E. coli disease typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant increase in cases is alarming,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, medical director of MDHHS, in the statement. “This is a reminder to make sure you follow best practices when it comes to hand hygiene and food handling to prevent these types of foodborne illness.”
The CDC recommends calling your health care provider right away if you have any of these serious symptoms: E coli symptoms:
- Diarrhea and fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit (38.9 degrees Celsius)
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that does not improve
- Bloody Diarrhea
- Vomit so much you can’t keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as not urinating much; dry mouth and throat; or feeling dizzy when standing up
Symptoms of E. coli usually appear within one to 10 days of exposure, with most people becoming sick within three to four days of ingesting the bacteria, according to the CDC. The majority of people recover without treatment within five to seven days, but people with serious infections and complications such as HUS may require hospitalization.
The following safety tips can help prevent: E coli infections:
- Clean: Wash your hands, utensils and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, slicing or peeling them.
- Separated: Keep uncooked foods separate from raw meat, poultry and seafood.
- Cooking: Use a food thermometer to make sure you have cooked your food to a temperature high enough to kill germs.
- Chill: Chill perishable foods (foods that spoil) within 2 hours. If food is exposed to temperatures above 90 F (32 C), such as in a hot car or at a picnic, refrigerate within 1 hour. Defrost food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
“Like a [contaminated] food product is identified, researchers will provide advice to people and businesses,” the CDC says.
Originally published on Live Science.
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