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.

0 shares

Related Stories

Salmonella-tainted sprouts sicken 21 in US

date 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

date 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

Time to move Lyme Disease Awareness Month to April?

date 1 hour ago

The month of May brings many things, among them Mother's Day, tulips, and Lyme Disease Awareness campaigns. But according to Dr. Richard S. Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem ...

An explanation of wild birds' role in avian flu outbreak

date 3 hours ago

Wild birds are believed to be behind the first major widespread outbreak of bird flu in the United States, with the virus confirmed in the animals in 10 states. Here are some questions and answers about how wild birds remain ...

Gastroenterology Special Issue confirms: You are what you eat

date 6 hours ago

Patients are always interested in understanding what they should eat and how it will impact their health. Physicians are just as interested in advancing their understanding of the major health effects of foods and food-related ...

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.