CDC reports 'rapid' E. coli outbreak in Michigan and Ohio

CDC reports ‘rapid’ E. coli outbreak in Michigan and Ohio

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A “rapid” outbreak of E. coli in Michigan and Ohio has sickened 29 people and hospitalized nine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.

In an urgent public announcement aimed at finding the source of the outbreak, the CDC said there were no deaths. No food source has been identified, the CDC said, meaning the number of people getting sick could increase. So far, 15 people in Michigan and 14 people in Ohio have been infected, the CDC said.

In a separate press release, the Michigan health department said it had received 98 reports of E. coli cases this month — up from 20 in August last year. Natasha Bagdasarian, the department’s medical director, said the “significant increase in the number of cases is alarming”. The Ohio Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 265,000 people in the US report E. coli infections each year. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

Symptoms of E. coli may include diarrhea, fever, excessive vomiting and dehydration, according to the CDC. “If you have symptoms of E. coli, help us resolve this outbreak. Write down what you ate in the week before you got sick” and report your case to health authorities, the CDC said in its post.

It also urged people to observe good food safety: wash hands, utensils and surfaces often, rinse fruits and vegetables, keep raw meat separate from other foods, use a food thermometer to ensure meat is cooked properly, and store perishable food in the refrigerator. Most infections come from food sources, but E. coli can be spread from person to person in places of frequent, close contact.

People younger than age 5 or older than 65 and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for serious disease, the CDC says.

Scientists say this E. coli won’t make you sick and can be good for the planet

E. coli are bacteria that can live in the intestines of animals. Most E. coli are harmless, but some generate toxins that can kill humans, which they usually contract when eating contaminated food. About 265,000 people in the United States become sick each year from E. coli-borne toxins, and 3,600 require hospital care, the CDC says. About 30 people die from it every year.

The most recent published outbreak occurred late last year, when 10 people in Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Ohio became ill. One person has died. In March, federal health officials declared the outbreak was over. A federal investigation traced the outbreak to packaged salad products whose ingredients came from farms in Arizona and California.

Previous outbreaks have been caused by a variety of foods. Baby spinach and cake mix were the cause of two outbreaks reported by the CDC last year. Meat products such as ground beef lagged behind in previous years.

Why E. coli keeps getting into our lettuce

In 2018, 210 people in 36 states were sickened by an E. coli outbreak caused by romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Arizona, resulting in five deaths and 96 hospitalizations. Federal health officials traced the E. coli to canal water samples from the Yuma region.

The following year, romaine lettuce from California’s Salinas Valley infected 167 people in 27 states, resulting in 85 hospitalizations.

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