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CDC provides new details on E. coli outbreak reported in Ohio, 3 other states

The CDC is currently investigating the cause of several reported E. coli cases in Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified more people infected from an outbreak of E. coli.

In an update Thursday, the CDC said there are now 84 people sick in four states - Ohio (23), Michigan (53), Pennsylvania (2) and Indiana (6) - from the strain of E. coli O157.

Thirty-eight people have been hospitalized, including eight in Michigan who have a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC said a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of the outbreak, but most reported eating burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce at Wendy’s restaurants before getting sick.

Among 62 people interviewed, 52 (84%) reported eating at a Wendy’s in the week before their illness started.

The CDC said Wendy’s is taking the precautionary measure of removing the romaine lettuce being used on sandwiches from restaurants in that region. A different type of lettuce is used for salads.

Additionally, the CDC is not advising people to avoid eating at Wendy’s restaurants or stop eating romaine lettuce.

There is no evidence at this time to indicate that the romaine lettuce was sold in stores or served in other restaurants.

To prevent getting sick, the CDC recommends people follow four steps when handling and preparing food: clean, separate, cook and chill. Infections are commonly spread through contaminated food or water.

The CDC is asking those with symptoms of E. coli to write down the food they ate during the week of their sickness, report the illness to a local and state health department and answer questions from public health officials.

If you are experiencing any of these severe E. coli symptoms, please call a healthcare provider:  

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days and is not improving
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down 
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:    
    • Not peeing much  
    • Dry mouth and throat     
    • Feeling dizzy when standing up

The CDC has provided the following information on E. coli:

  • Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. Some people may have a fever, which usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C).
  • Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
  • Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you have severe symptoms of E. coli, such as diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102˚F, bloody diarrhea, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and are not peeing much.

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