At least 17 people have become sick after being infected with the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7. The outbreak has affected Washington, Idaho, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut.
The outbreak in New Jersey was earlier linked to Panera bread. New Jersey has the most number of infections with six cases, followed by Idaho with four infections.
While the CDC is investigating the outbreak, the health agency is not advising consumers to avoid any particular food.
"Restaurants and retailers are not advised to avoid serving or selling any particular food," the CDC said in an update.
Food safety and inspection officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture are also probing into the matter.
E. coli is spread through fecal-oral route or the when the bacteria from feces contaminates food or utensils. Germs from an infected person left behind on surfaces can also infect another person. A person can get sick within two to eight days after ingesting the germ.
Symptoms To Look Out For
According to the CDC, people infected with E. coli often develop bloody diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting.
Infected patients usually recover within a week after infection. Some cases may be more severe and can result to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.
The elderly, children under 5 years, and people with weakened immune systems are susceptible to kidney failure resulting from E. coli infection.
Symptoms of severe E. coli infection may include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin, fatigue and irritability, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination.
Good And Bad Bacteria
Escherichia coli, more commonly known as E. coli is an entire species of different bacteria. It can be found in the environment, food, and intestines of humans and animals. Strains of E. coli in the gut keep the intestinal tract healthy. While most strains of E. coli are harmless, there are strains that can cause illnesses.
The toxin producing E. coli strain O157:H7 is linked to the outbreak.
Last year, at least 25 people contracted E. coli infection from leafy greens including romaine lettuce from Canada.
Ways To Prevent E. coli Infection
CDC strongly recommends the proper washing of hands. Wash hands before and after preparing or eating food, after using the restroom or changing diapers, and after contact with animals.
When cooking and preparing food, it is advised to cook meat thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Steaks and roasts should be cooked to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit and let rest for three minutes after cooking. Ground beef and pork should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
To avoid cross contamination when preparing food, use separate cutting boards, knives, and utensils for raw meat. Fruits and vegetables must also be washed thoroughly before eating. CDC also discourages the consumption of unpasteurized juices and dairy products, and raw milk.