CDC investigates 13-state E coli outbreak: 5 things to know

The CDC, several state health departments and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli.

Here are five things to know.

1. Seventeen people across 13 states became infected with the bacteria from Nov. 15 through Dec. 8.

2. Three cases were identified in California, two in Connecticut and New Hampshire, and one each in the following states: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont and Washington.

3. Federal investigators are researching a possible link between the U.S. outbreak and similar infections reported in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada has identified romaine lettuce as the source of the bacteria.

"Whole genome sequencing is being performed on samples of bacteria making people sick in the United States to give us information about whether these illnesses are related to the illnesses in Canada," the CDC said on Thursday. "Preliminary results show that the type of E. coli making people sick in both countries is closely related genetically, meaning the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection."

4. As the CDC has not confirmed the source of the outbreak, the agency cannot recommend U.S. residents avoid consumption of a certain food.

5. E. coli is transmitted through contact with fecal matter, which can contaminate food and water, from an infected person or animal. Symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection often include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, according to the CDC.

More articles on infection control: 
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