January 17, 2018

Georgia E coli Outbreak Linked to Deadly Louisiana Outbreak

A Georgia E coli outbreak has been linked to a deadly Louisiana outbreak, according to public health officials in both states. This particular strain of bacteria, called E. coli 0145, has not caused a multi-state outbreak in the United States for a year. Officials said that five people have been sickened in the Georgia E coli outbreak, and 2 adults are ill in Louisiana. A toddler in Louisiana has died from the illness.

E.coli Bacteria on TissueThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 26 confirmed and 7 probable cases in that May 2010 outbreak were linked to contaminated lettuce. Three of those patients developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of an E. coli infection, which can cause kidney failure.

E. coli 0145 is part of a group of bacteria called Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, otherwise known as STEC. The most well-known of that group is E. coli 0157:H7. It is illegal to sell ground beef contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 in this country. The USDA just started testing beef trim for six other STEC bacteria on June 4, 2012.

A search of the CDC site revealed that last year’s E. coli 0145 outbreak was the only one caused by that particular bacteria to cross state lines. There have been many outbreaks of foodborne illness caused by various strains of E. coli bacteria in the past year, including:

  • An E. coli outbreak in South Carolina in May 2012 that has not been solved
  • Three kindergardeners in Kentucky were sickened by E. coli in an unsolved case in April 2012
  • Raw milk caused an E. coli outbreak that sickened 14 people in Missouri in April 2012
  • Raw milk sickened 18 people in an E. coli outbreak in Oregon in April 2012
  • An outbreak of E. coli 026 was linked to Jimmy John’s raw sprouts in December 2011 through March 2012
  • A 2011 outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 linked to Organic Pastures raw milk
  • The Ambassador Restaurant in Michigan was the source of a December 2011 E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak
  • Romaine lettuce was linked to a multi-state E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in 2011

While consumers can reduce their risk of contracting foodborne illness from STEC bacteria by washing hands, cooking meat to a safe internal temperature, avoiding cross-contamination, and avoiding raw milk products, it is impossible to completely avoid the bacteria. Just 10 E coli 0157:H7 bacteria are enough to make a person sick.

If you or anyone you know has developed symptoms of an E. coli infection, including severe abdominal cramps, bloody diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting, please see your doctor immediately. Tell her about your symptoms and ask for a culture to see if your illness is caused by E. coli bacteria.

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