Georgia confirms 17 sickened in multistate E. coli outbreak

A state agency says at least 17 people in Georgia have been sickened in an outbreak of E. coli infections affecting five US states. No deaths and no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome have been reported. It's possible we could see reports appear from other bordering states, but the outbreak appears to be localized to the eastern portion of the US. The source of this particular outbreak remains a mystery, making it hard for the public to avoid the illness.

Kentucky has the most cases with 46 ill people, followed by Tennessee with 26, and Georgia with 17.

While most strains are harmless, some are pathogenic and can cause illness, which typically includes stomach cramps and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Other cases were reported in Tennessee (26); Georgia (17); OH (5); and Virginia (2.) No cases have been reported in Alabama.

Federal health officials have not identified a food item, grocery store or restaurant chain as the source of these infections.

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While most people recover after several days, some E. coli infection cases can be life-threatening. The CDC, state health departments, the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the US Food and Drug Administration are investigating the outbreak.

Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals. They also suggest making sure all cooked meats are fully cook and fruits and vegetables are fully washed before eating. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145˚F and let rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove.

There are a number of good recommendations about safe food handling practices, cooking temperatures for ground beef, about washing produce.

Lettuce from other parts of the USA and Mexico is safe to eat, the CDC says. If can be avoided, lessen the intake of raw or unpasteurized dairy products and juices.

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