At least five people in Vermont are part of a cluster of E. coli illnesses, Valley News is reporting. A food source of the illnesses has not been identified.
Health officials have been tight-lipped about the outbreak, but have said they are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). E. coli bacteria live in the intestines of cows and other ruminants. They cause infection when food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter is ingested.
Recent E. coli outbreaks have been caused by ground beef, frozen snack foods, raw milk, spinach, salad greens, onions, prepared salads and bean sprouts.
Beef is the source of most E. coli outbreaks, according to a federal study by the Food Safety Analytics Collaboration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Of the 952 outbreaks attributed to one pathogen during the 14-year study period, 170 were caused by E.coli. Of those, 97 were caused by beef, 29 were caused by row vegetables, 18 by dairy, 11 by fruit, six by sprouts, four by game, two by meat other than beef, pork, turkey chicken or game and 1 each by chicken, turkey and other produce.
Symptoms of an E.coli infection which include abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea, usually set in about three days after exposure, but can take up to a week to develop. Symptoms can last a week or more. Complications include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which leads to kidney failure
In 2014, a four-state E. coli outbreak was linked to ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Co. of Detroit. The outbreak, seventh-largest multistate food poisoning outbreak of 2014, sickened 12 people, six were hospitalized.
All of the illnesses were linked to restaurant meals. Wolverine recalled almost 2 million pounds of ground beef products, but the 97-page list of recalled items did not include restaurant names.
Five of those sickened were from Michigan, four were from Ohio, one was from Missouri and one was from in Massachusetts.
Most of the Ohio cases were in the Toledo area. The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department said two of three case patients from that area ate at the same restaurant. At least one lawsuit was filed.
Recent E.coli outbreaks attributed to leafy greens include a 2013 outbreak linked to ready-to-eat salads sold at Trader Joe’s, Coscto and Walgreens stores. That outbreak sickened 33 people in four states. Two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E.coli infections that causes kidney failure.
In 2012, spinach and spring mix sold at Wegmans and other East Coast grocery stores sickened 33 people in five states. The salad greens were produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Mass. and sold in plastic, clamshell containers.
The largest leafy green E.coli outbreak in the U.S. was in 2006, when 238 people in 26 states were sickened by bagged spinach sold at grocery stores.
Sprouts are a common source of food poisoning outbreaks, or “sproutbreaks.” In 2014, an E.coli O121 outbreak sickened 19 people in six states. The raw clover sprouts were served on sandwiches at Jimmy John’s and other fast food restaurants. Five people have been hospitalized.