E. coli outbreak has sickened more than 70 people, says CDC


The outside headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is seen on October 13, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Photo: Jessica McGowan (Getty)

THE E. coli An outbreak with an as yet unknown origin reportedly affected dozens of people in several states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to federal and state investigations into its cause.

The CDC said Friday that reports of individuals infected with the producer of Shiga toxin E. coli O103 started in early March. This week, the CDC said the outbreak had affected 72 people in five states – Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia – with 17 percent of those hospitalized.

The CDC reported that 36 cases occurred in Kentucky, which currently has the highest number of registered cases related to the outbreak. However, state officials said on Friday the number rose to 46, according to the Courier-Journal, which means that the CDC's number may be slightly less than the most recent number of reported cases.

"Health professionals across Kentucky have been alerted to this potential threat and are working with us to ensure that patients are identified and receive appropriate care," said Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Jeff Howard in a statement last week. "However, we urge all Kentuckians to be aware of the signs and symptoms E. coli and seek care if they are sick. "

Barbara Fox, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Office of Health and Family Services, told the Courier-Journal that state officials are working to identify potential food overlaps that affected individuals may have eaten before becoming ill.

The CDC, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, as well as the states, are currently analyzing a possible source for the outbreak. The CDC said it does not advise consumers to eat – or against the restaurants they serve – any particular food for now.

The CDC said those infected with the Shiga toxin producer E. coli usually begins to experience symptoms within a few days of ingesting it. Symptoms include stomach cramps, vomiting and bloody diarrhea, although the CDC notes that symptoms may present differently, depending on the individual. In most cases, people will recover in about a week or less.



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