An e. coli outbreak with no known source has spread to seven states, infecting 17 people and prompting an investigation by state and federal health officials.
The state hit hardest by the outbreak is New Jersey, which has six cases that led to the investigation of a Panera Bread. Other states include: Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Missouri and Washington.
The cases resulted in six hospitalizations and started between March 22 and March 31, affecting mostly women. Those sick range in age from 12 to 84, notes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, there is no known source at the time. Officials aren’t recommending people avoid any particular, food, grocery store or restaurant. Likewise, restaurants aren’t being held to any restrictions.
Individual states, the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating the outbreak.
The Shiga E. coli type spreading through the states is “toxin-producing,” the CDC states. People get sick within two to eight days of swallowing the germ, which causes diarrhea stomach cramps and vomiting. Although most recover in one week, it could lead to kidney failure.
To avoid E. coli, wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, cook meat completely, wash fruits and vegetables, avoid raw milk and don’t prepare food when you’re sick. If you find yourself sick, write down what you’ve eaten, contact your doctor and report your illness to your local health department.
The CDC says the investigation is ongoing.
“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.”