Source of multistate E. coli outbreak sought

e coli virus - src centers for disease control and prevention
E. coli virus. Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli illnesses. There have been 17 cases in 7 states: Connecticut (2), Idaho (4), Missouri, New Jersey (6), Ohio, Pennsylvania (2), and Washington. The 17 illnesses occurred in the time period of March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018.

No specific food item has been identified as a likely source of the infections at this time. The FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network is working with federal, state, and local partners to determine what people ate before they became ill, where they bought and consumed it and to identify the distribution chain of these foods. It is hoped this information will lead to identifying any common food or points in the distribution chain where the food might have become contaminated.

Since no food item is suspect, FDA is not recommending consumers avoid any particular food product.

Consumers who have symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

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Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Contact your healthcare provider if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days or is accompanied by high fever, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.

Although many infections resolve within 5-7 days, they can result in serious illness, including a potentially serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome.

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