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An E. Coli Outbreak From an Unknown Food Has Hit 5 States, CDC Says

It has caused 16 illnesses, nine hospitalizations, and even one death.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan
CDC website homepage

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an E. coli outbreak that has caused 16 illnesses, nine hospitalizations, and one death across five states. So far, no food has been linked to the case and no recall has been issued.

"CDC is concerned about the growing number of severe illnesses and hospitalizations in this outbreak," the organization says in an investigation notice posted to its website Feb 2. "If you have E. coli symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider and report your illness to your local health department." (Related: Keep yourself healthy with The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.)

It takes about two to four weeks to connect an illness to an E. coli outbreak, but only three to four for symptoms to start. The first person got sick on Dec. 23, 2020, and from then on cases started all across the country. In total, six people have been sick in Arkansas, five in Oklahoma, two in Virginia, two in Washington, and one in New York.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea for more than three days without improvement, a fever above 102 degrees Fahrenheit, extreme vomiting, as well as dehydration and dry mouth, dizziness, and not urinating. The CDC says that if you have any of these symptoms, write down what you ate the week before getting sick, report your illness to your local or state health department, and answer their questions.

The CDC also recommends washing utensils, surfaces, and your hands often in order to avoid getting sick from E. coli. Wash "fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or peeling," and keep shelf-stable foods separate from items that need to be cooked, like raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Make sure food is cooked to a high temperature that will kill off any germs. And finally, refrigerate foods that can go bad quickly.

While this current E. coli investigation is still underway, here are 8 Food Recalls You Need to Know About Now. To get all the latest grocery store and recall news delivered right to your email inbox every day, sign up for our newsletter!

Amanda McDonald
Amanda is a staff writer for Eat This, Not That!. Read more