Federal Health Officials have recently reported that fourteen people from six states have gotten sick from the same strain of toxin-producing Escherichia, known as E. coli.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases have been reported in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisana, and Tennessee. Georgia has reported five cases, which is the most in one state.
The cause of the outbreak is unknown, but Louisana Health Officials suspect that food may be to blame.
Meat, poultry, fruits, and vegetables can be sources of E. coli infections. However, other sources of infections include raw or unpasteurized milk, water that has not been disinfected, contact with cattle, or contact with the feces of infected people.
The CDC mentions that people can get sick from 2 to 8 days after swallowing the organism. Most people infected develop abdominal cramps and watery or bloody diarrhea. The illness usually resolves on its own within seven days, but sometimes symptoms can last longer.
Those with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, young children and the elderly are at a greater risk for severe illness and death.
The spread of E. coli bacteria can be prevented by washing hands thoroughly after changing diapers, going to the bathroom, and after contact with animals. Wash cutting boards and countertops with hot, soapy water. Avoid non-pasteurized dairy products and juices, and cook meats thoroughly. When swimming, avoid swallowing water.