Two Mysterious E. coli Outbreaks om More than a Dozen States Leads to 44 Illnesses and One Death
The CDC has reported two separate E. Coli outbreaks with no known sources, having caused a total of 44 infections and one death. Though the two outbreaks are caused by different strains, they have both been connected to E. coli O157:H7. Investigators are currently deducing the cause of this outbreak, having no advice as of date for foods the public should avoid.
The first outbreak has caused 21 infections in 8 states: California (7), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Michigan (2), New Jersey (1), Ohio (7), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (1). Of the reported cases, 8 required hospitalizations and there was one death. The second outbreak has caused 23 infections in 12 states: California (2), Illinois (1), Kansas (4), Michigan (2), Missouri (2), North Dakota (4), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Tennessee (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (2). Of those reported cases, 10 required hospitalizations.
The CDC is currently investigating the outbreak, having found no restaurants, grocery stores, or food items to avoid. They are currently conducting a traceback investigation by interviewing ill people and using food safety technology. The food safety system being used is called Pulsenet, a traceback network utilizing whole genome sequencing (WGS) to test whether different food poisoning cases are related and discover the source of an outbreak. During WGS, DNA fingerprinting is employed to identify genetically related bacteria. On average, it takes 2 to 4 weeks for the E. coli infection to be reported, analyzed with WGS, and submitted to Pulsenet. According to E. coli lawsuit Lawyer Ron Simon, “traceback efforts are underway to find the foods that were eaten by all the victims – at some point, they should be able to find the common thread linking these victims together.”
According to the CDC, Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) infections symptoms typically begin 3 to 4 days after exposure to the bacteria, though some report symptoms between 1 to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms of a STEC infection include classic food poisoning symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, as well as a low grade fever. STEC infections typically resolve without treatment within 5 to 7 days, though a healthcare provider should be contacted in cases with a high fever or severe diarrhea or vomiting.