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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Wednesday that a “fast-moving” E. Coli outbreak hospitalized nine people and left 20 others ill in Michigan and Ohio.
No deaths have been reported.
Officials warned that the actual number of people infected is likely higher than the number reported, as the food source from which the outbreak originated has yet to be identified.
Symptoms of the infection vary for each person, but CDC officials said they could often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Others may come down with a low-grade fever or experience signs of dehydration, such as a reduction in urination, dry mouth and throat, and episodes of dizziness when standing up.
“If you have symptoms of coli, help us solve this outbreak,” the health agency said. “Write down what you ate in the week before you got sick, report your illness to your local or state health department, and answer public health officials’ questions about your illness.”
The Michigan Health Department of Health and Human Services reports it’s currently investigating a recent increase in the number of illnesses related to E. Coli bacteria.
The department reported 98 cases of infection in August, compared to the 20 cases reported last year during the same period.
“While reports of E. coli illness typically increase during the warmer summer months, this significant jump in cases is alarming,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, the department’s chief medical executive. “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.”
Symptoms typically appear about three to four days after exposure, but the department said sometimes they could last as long as 10 days.
While the disease can impact everyone, young children will likely experience a more severe illness.
The Washington Post reports that last year, an outbreak traced back to ingredients from packaged salad products out of Arizona and California farms killed one person and infected 10 others in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Ohio.
CBS News reports one of the most recent significant outbreaks occurred toward the end of 2019, where approximately 200 people across half of the U.S. were infected after eating contaminated romaine lettuce.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials would report months later that the outbreak occurred due to close “proximity of cattle to produce fields.”
The Washington Post reports the year prior, 210 people across 36 states were infected with another outbreak sparked by romaine lettuce out of Yuma, Arizona, which killed five people and hospitalized 96 others.
CDC officials said E. Coli-borne toxins infect about 265,000 people in the United States yearly, with approximately 3,600 requiring hospital treatment and 30 dying from it.
Officials urge everyone to wash their hands, rinse food and vegetables, and separate raw meat from other foods to prevent infection.