Sudden and fast E. coli outbreak in the U.S. prompts CDC investigation

The public health agency hasn't identified the source yet.
Deniz Yildiran
E. coli bacteria
E. coli bacteria

libre de troit/iStock 

Escherichia coli, commonly known as E. coli, is a type of bacteria that lives in the lower intestines of warm-blooded organisms. Some strains are responsible for food poisoning in their hosts, although most types are harmless.

Around 265,000 STEC infections, which are caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, cause people to pay a visit to hospitals every year in the United States.

Recently, a sudden and fast-spreading outbreak of the bacteria that has sickened 14 people in Ohio and 15 in Michigan has raised some concerns about public health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an investigation notice on August 17, Wednesday.

Out of 29 cases, nine have been hospitalized; and currently, no death rate has been reported.

Additionally, CDC revealed that they haven't identified a certain type of food that could have stirred the pot.

According to another report by the State of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had received 98 case reports of E. coli infection in August. In comparison, the number of cases reported in 2021 August was 20. The investigation started by the officials is reportedly in the early stages, while the laboratory results reveal a link between some of the cases.

“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive, in a statement.

“This is a reminder to make sure to follow best practices when it comes to hand hygiene and food handling to prevent these kinds of foodborne illness. If you are experiencing symptoms of E. coli infection like cramping and diarrhea (or gastrointestinal distress), especially if they are severe, make sure to let your health care provider know.”

Know your symptoms

The officials warn that the STEC infection's symptoms often include severe stomach cramps, and diarrhea -- often accompanied by blood, vomiting, and fever. However, symptoms may reveal differently for each person.

Symptoms of the infection generally occur three to four days after the bacteria gets in the body, while in some cases, the period reduces to one day or increases up to ten days. Some infections are very mild, while others could get severe and life-threatening.

Young children and the elderly may be more prone to experience severe symptoms, and nearly 5 to 10 percent of people might develop hemolytic uremic syndrome after infection. It is a condition where one gets to urinate less, feel tired, and lose color in the cheeks and inside the eyelids.

Officials warn that if you experience any of the signs above, you should contact your health care provider as soon as possible.

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