FDA Investigating Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections
April 10, 2018
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses.
- The FDA is in the preliminary stages of investigating a multistate outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses.
- The CDC reports that 17 people in 7 states have become ill.
- The 17 illnesses occurred in the time period of March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018.
- The FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network is working with federal, state, and local partners to determine what people ate before they became ill, where they bought it and consumed it, and to identify the distribution chain of these foods — all with the goal of identifying any common food or points in the distribution chain where the food might have become contaminated.
- The information available at this time does not point to any particular food item, therefore the FDA is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food product. We will share more information as it becomes available.
- Consumers who have symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care. Although many infections resolve in 5-7 days, they can result in serious illness, including a potentially serious condition called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
What is the Problem and What is being Done About It?
The FDA and the CDC, along with state and local health officials, are investigating an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 infections. There are 17 cases in 7 states: Connecticut (2), Idaho (4), Missouri, New Jersey (6), Ohio, Pennsylvania (2), and Washington. The 17 illnesses occurred in the time period of March 22, 2018 to March 31, 2018.
No specific food item has been identified as a likely source of the infections at this time. CORE is working with federal, state, and local partners to determine what people ate before they became ill, where they bought and consumed it, and to identify the distribution chain of these foods — all with the goal of identifying any common food or points in the distribution chain where the food might have become contaminated.
In a typical traceback effort, CDC and the FDA identifies clusters of people who became ill, especially in different geographical regions and works to trace the food eaten by those made ill to a common source. In situations where there is no packaging available for the reported or suspect product that may help conduct a traceback, FDA scientists and investigators work with federal and state partners and companies to collect, review and analyze hundreds–sometimes thousands–of invoices and shipping documents. This process is labor-intensive, but also dependent on the availability and quality of records.
What are the Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 Infection?
The symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea. If there is fever, it is usually not very high (less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit /less than 38.5 degrees Celsius). Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
Around 5–10 percent of those who are diagnosed with STEC infection develop a potentially life-threatening complication, known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die. People who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately. Persons with HUS should be hospitalized because their kidneys may stop working (acute renal failure), but they may also develop other serious problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, and neurologic problems.
Who is at Risk?
People of any age can become infected with Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli. Children under the age of 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness, including HUS, but even healthy older children and young adults can become seriously ill.
What Do Restaurants and Retailers Need To Do?
Retailers, restaurants, and other food service operators should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
- Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators regularly.
- Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to prepare, serve, or store food.
- Wash hands with hot water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
What Do Consumers Need To Do?
Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. It is recommended that they wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food. Consumers should be sure to always cook foods to the proper temperature. See the Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for more details.
Who Should be Contacted?
People who think they might have symptoms of an E. coli infection should consult their health care provider.
People with questions about food safety can call the FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the fda.gov website: http://www.fda.gov.
back to top