Mahoning County woman part of multi-state E Coli investigation - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mahoning County woman part of multi-state E Coli investigation

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WASHINGTON -

State health officials say a Valley woman part of the investigation into a multi-state E Coli infection outbreak.

The Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating the outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections in seven states, including Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The one case being investigated in Ohio involves a 24-year-old woman who was hospitalized overnight in Mahoning County on March 24.

The woman, whose identity is not being released, has since recovered according to state health officials.

The CDC investigation includes E. coli infections recently reported by the New Jersey Department of Health.

Of the seventeen cases investigated, six people have been hospitalized.

In addition to the Ohio case,  six cases have been reported in New Jersey, four in Idaho, two in Pennsylvania, two in Connecticut, and one case each in Missouri, and Washington.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 22 to March 31. Victims range in age from 12 to 84 years, with a median age of 41.

Among the ill people, 65% are female. Six have been hospitalized, including one person who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported.

The CDC says a specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of infections and is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food at this time.

In addition, restaurants and retailers are not advised to avoid serving or selling any particular food, according to the CDC.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of the outbreak.

PulseNet is a national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC.

DNA fingerprinting is performed on E. coli bacteria isolated from ill people using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and whole genome sequencing.

CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE.

Illnesses reported by investigators in New Jersey also included ill people who had a diagnostic test showing they were infected with E. coli bacteria.

Laboratory testing is ongoing to link their illnesses to the outbreak using DNA fingerprinting. Some people may not be included in CDC's case count because no bacterial isolates are available for the DNA fingerprinting needed to link them to the outbreak.

State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before their illness started.

Symptoms of E. coli Infections

People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 2-8 days (average of 3-4 days) after swallowing the germ.

Most people infected with E. coli develop diarrhea (often bloody), severe stomach cramps and vomiting.

Most people recover within one week.

Some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).

HUS can occur in people of any age but is most common in young children under 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms of HUS can include fever, abdominal pain, pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and decreased urination.

People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

E. coli infection is usually diagnosed by testing a stool sample.

Advice to Consumers

Take action if you have symptoms of an E. coli infection:

Talk to your healthcare provider.

Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.

Report your illness to the health department.

Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.

Follow these general ways to prevent E. coli infection:

Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.

Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145°F and let rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Cook ground beef and pork to at least 160°F.

Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.

Don't cross-contaminate food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.

Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says the contents have been washed.

Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.

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