Officials probe E. coli outbreak in US (Update)

by MIKE STOBBE

(AP) — A mysterious and scattered outbreak of the E. coli bacteria is linked to 14 illnesses in America, including a child's death, health officials say.

No form of contaminated food or other cause has been identified in the illnesses, which occurred in April and May, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three people were hospitalized. One — a child in the New Orleans area — died last week.

The reported illnesses were spread across six states. Georgia had five cases, Louisiana four, Alabama two, and Tennessee, Florida and California each had one.

E. coli is a large family of bacteria and most strains are harmless. The most deadly strain is considered E. coli O157:H7, which became well-known in the early 1990s through a deadly outbreak associated with hamburger meat.

Six similar strains are also considered dangerous and one of them is E. coli O145, the strain identified in this new outbreak. Health officials haven't been tracking O145 intensively for very long; it was only in 2009 that the CDC began recommending labs test for it.

"These are not newly emerging bacteria. Our awareness of them has been improving," said Stacey Bosch, who's leading the investigation into the outbreak for the CDC.

People tend to get sick two to eight days after ingesting the bacteria. It's most dangerous to very young and very old people and those with weakened immune systems. For those people, it's more likely that the toxins made by the bacteria will poison the blood and cause kidney failure, experts say.

The first U.S. foodborne outbreak linked to O145 occurred in 2010, when more than two dozen people in at least five states were sickened by bacteria transmitted through romaine lettuce. Health officials have also seen instances where it was spread through water and deer meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently enacted measures to step up detection of different strains of E. coli in meat, including the O145 strain. CDC officials say they've seen no evidence that meat was the source of the new outbreak.

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Salmonella-tainted sprouts sicken 21 in US

Jun 28, 2011

An outbreak of salmonella poisoning in salad sprouts has sickened 21 people in the United States but is not connected to the German E. coli outbreak, health authorities said Tuesday.

French woman dies of E. coli

Jul 02, 2011

(AP) -- A 78-year-old French woman died early Saturday morning from complications of E. coli infection but a doctor said she was not suffering from the strain that has infected many other people in France and Germany.

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

Dec 21, 2014

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.