HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. —
A mysterious E. coli outbreak in the United States has popped up in Hamilton County and other parts of East Tennessee.
The Hamilton County Health Department confirms three cases here match the outbreak that has sickened more than 90 people nationwide.
As of April 9, states that are reporting sick patients so far include 26 in Tennessee, 17 in Georgia, 46 in Kentucky, five in Ohio, and two in Virginia.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says 11 people have been hospitalized after people began falling ill on March 2nd. So far, no deaths have been reported.
Our affiliate station WATE-TV reports 2 people were hospitalized in Knox County.
The CDC says at this time, grocery stores, retailers, and restaurants do not need to avoid serving or selling any particular food. That’s because they’re still working to learn the source.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection include:
- Severe stomach cramps
- Diarrhea (often bloody)
The CDC says some people may develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome.
If you have these symptoms, the CDC advises taking the following steps:
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
- Report your illness to the health department.
- Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.
Here are several ways the CDC advises to prevent getting E. coli:
Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Cook ground beef, pork, and lamb to at least 160F. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145F and let rest for 3 minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.
Keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked before eating. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils with soap after they touch raw meat to avoid contaminating other foods.
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.
Don’t prepare food or drinks for others when you are sick.