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E. Coli outbreak confirmed in Tennessee and four other states

Posted at 8:56 PM, Apr 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-10 15:07:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — An E. coli outbreak is right here in Tennessee that's also affecting four nearby states. One of the state's top medical professionals says they're still trying to determine the source. Currently, there are 96 cases in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia.

E. coli is a bacteria, a fecal-oral contaminate. The kind that causes diarrhea is typically due to contaminated water, produce that wasn't washed thoroughly, under cooked beef or someone preparing food who didn't wash their hands.

Symptoms of E. coli Infection:

  • People usually get sick from Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) 2–8 days (average of 3–4 days) after swallowing the germ.
  • Symptoms often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.
  • Some people with a STEC infection may get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
  • For more information, see Symptoms of E. coli Infection.

"Like many diseases like salmonella and E. coli many people just recover on their own. In this case, we haven't seen as many hospitalizations which is a good thing," said Deputy State epidemiologist John Dunn.

The Tennessee Department of Health says there 26 cases in the state and none are in Nashville. The CDC reports there is no specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain identified as the source of infections.

"The outbreak certainly looks like some kind of distributed food product, but we don't know what that food is right now. We're interviewing the cases, we're asking them about what they did, what they ate, where they shopped; trying to gather that information to pinpoint what the cause might be," said Dunn.

In order to prevent the spread of the disease, Dunn says it all comes down to playing it safe.

There are a number of good recommendations about safe food handling practices, cooking temperatures for ground beef, about washing produce.

CDC says illnesses started on dates from March 2 to March 29 of this year. Ill people range in age from 1 to 81 years, with a median age of 17.