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Posted in E. coli on March 30, 2023
While most strains of E. coli are harmless, some can cause foodborne illness, ranging from mild to severe. Therefore, E. coli outbreaks can potentially have severe consequences, including hospitalizations and even deaths. If you suspect an E. coli outbreak, it is important to contact your local health department and healthcare provider as soon as possible. Then, get in touch with an experienced E. coli attorney to explore your legal options.
The number of E. coli outbreaks in the United States varies from year to year. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that there are an average of 265,000 E. coli cases each year and approximately 100 deaths. About 40 percent of these infections are caused by the strain E. coli O157:H7. It is part of the shiga toxin-producing group of E. coli bacteria (STEC).
According to the CDC, three E. coli outbreak investigations were completed in 2022. However, the true number of sick people in each outbreak was likely much higher than the number reported.
Four outbreaks were investigated in 2021:
If you suspect that there is an E. coli outbreak, there are a few things you can do to help prevent the spread of the illness and protect yourself and others:
Contact your local health department or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to report the suspected foodborne illness. This information can help public health officials conduct an investigation.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps after eating, seek medical attention immediately. In severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary. Additionally, you must receive an E. coli diagnosis to link it to the outbreak once the source is identified.
If you still have any of the food you believe made you ill, keep it refrigerated or frozen for later testing.
If public health officials investigate the outbreak, cooperate with them to the best of your ability. This may involve answering questions about where you ate, what you ate, and when you became sick and providing a stool sample or medical records.
To help prevent the spread of the illness, wash your hands frequently with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling food. If you are sick, avoid preparing food for others and stay home until you fully recover.
Following these steps can greatly reduce the risk of an E. coli outbreak or help contain one.