The Centers for Disease Control has reported that 109 people have been infected with E.coli in six states, and the cause may be ground beef.
The CDC is reporting that 17 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
Preliminary information suggests that ground beef may be the source both at restaurants and at home. So far, investigations have not identified a common supplier, distributor, or brand. Investigations continue to identify the source supplied to stores and restaurants where people fell ill.
The investigation into this outbreak began on March 28, and illnesses have been reported as far back as March 2. The CDC believes that more illness may be reported given the average two to three weeks between when a person becomes ill and when it is reported. People from 1 year to 89 years old have been reported being ill.
The states where people have fallen ill include Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. The CDC has identified Kentucky as having the largest number of people infected with this current E.coli outbreak.
According to the CDC, those infected with E.coli usually get sick 3-4 days after exposure. Symptoms typically last 5-7 days and often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, and vomiting.
This strain of E.coli, E.coli O103 can be particularly dangerous because it produces a toxin called Shiga toxin. This toxin destroys red blood cells and can lead to a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. So far, there have been no reports of this.
At this time, the CDC is not recommending avoiding eating ground beef, but for consumers and restaurants to safely handle and to thoroughly cook it to avoid foodborne illnesses.
The CDC is also not recommending stopping serving or selling ground beef at this time.
To help ensure safety, when handling and cooking raw beef, people should practice good sanitation such as washing hands after touching raw meat and before touching other kitchen items, thoroughly washing surfaces the meat came into contact with; and cooking the meat to an internal temperature of at least 160° F.
For more information, check out the CDC’s food safety tips.