13/04/19: Ground Beef E. coli O103 Outbreak; 109 Now Sick

Ground Beef E. coli O103 Outbreak

In addition, Indiana has been added to the case count, with one person ill in that state. The case count by state is: Indiana (1), Georgia (17), Kentucky (54), Ohio (7), Tennessee (28), and Virginia (2). Illness onset dates range from March 2 to March 26, 2019. The patient age range is less than 1 year to 83, with a median age of 18. No cases of the hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a type of kidney failure, have been reported yet.

Ill persons reported eating ground beef at home and in restaurants. Officials are conducting traceback investigations to find out where the ground beef came from. No common supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been identified at this time.

According to patient interviews, 85% ate ground beef the week before they got sick. This percentage is “significantly higher” than results from a survey of healthy people taken during that same time period. Patients ate ground beef from several different grocery stores and restaurants. The CDC report states that many of them bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make recipes such as sloppy joes and spaghetti sauce.

The CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid ground beef, but warn that this meat must be handled carefully and safely. Avoid cross-contamination between ground beef and other foods. Always cook ground beef to a minimum final internal temperature of 160°F, and check that temp with a meat thermometer. And wash your hands well with soap and water after handling any raw ground meat.

More ground beef safety tips include: use refrigerated raw ground beef within 1 or 2 days. Store it in a plastic bag on the lowest shelf of your fridge. Always refrigerate cooked ground beef within two hours and use it within three or four days. Only thaw frozen ground beef in the fridge, never on the countertop. And when you are ordering anything made with ground beef at a restaurant, ask that hamburgers and recipes be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.

Any illnesses that occurred after March 20, 2019, may not yet be reported. It takes time between when a person gets sick, sees their doctor, gets tested, and the test results are received and reported to public health officials.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever, severe and painful abdominal and stomach cramps, and diarrhoea that is bloody and watery. Most people do see a doctor when they contract this infection simply because the symptoms are so serious.

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