Coli Outbreak Investigation Spans 7 States

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Health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli that has hit seven states over the past four weeks.

A total of six cases were reported in New Jersey along with four in Idaho, two each in CT and Pennsylvania and one each in Missouri, Ohio and Washington.

The other states affected include Connecticut, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington, for a total of 17 cases.

The ongoing investigation has not identified a specific food item, grocery store or restaurant chain as the source of the infections.

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"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".

Unfortunately, the source of the outbreak remains unclear, and because of that, the CDC "is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food at this time".

While no deaths have been reported so far, six people have been sent to the hospital including one person with kidney failure.

An outbreak of infections associated with a common type of bacteria found in foods, the environment and in the gastrointestinal tract of people and animals, has sicken 17 people in seven states, including two in CT. New Jersey has the most cases of people falling ill with six while Idaho is second with four cases.

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The outbreak began in late March.

Symptoms of E. coli infections include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting which can go away within a week. "These detectives who are called epidemiologists will go and start investigating, they will look at all patients", Dr. Raj Kapila, a professor in the department of medicine at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told CBS New York.

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 ground beef and pork to at least 160˚F. This can be due to ingestion of contaminated food and water or poor hygiene.

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Don't prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.

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