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article imageE Coli outbreak in six U.S. states, source unknown

By Leigh Goessl     Jun 9, 2012 in Health
U.S. officials are conducting an investigation to determine what has caused an outbreak of E.Coli over the past two months. Since Apr. 15, over a dozen individuals in six states have been sickened by E.Coli bacteria, with one death.
According to Reuters, 13 people have fallen ill due to an E.Coli O145 bacteria infection across six states; one person, a 21-month-old girl from Louisiana, has died from the infection.
The range of time reported at this time is Apr. 15 to May 12, but a recent case was reported on June 4. The CDC notes these figures may increase since cases are usually not reported immediately to the federal agency.
MSNBC reports illnesses have occurred in Alabama (2), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Tennessee (1), Louisiana (3 illnesses, 1 death), and California (1).
At this time officials are not sure what the underlying cause is for this outbreak.
“This ongoing multi-state investigation has not yet identified a source of those infections,” the CDC said in a statement on Friday. "The investigation is looking at both food and non-food sources as a part of the ongoing investigation."
In Georgia, which has the most reported illnesses, health officials are also mystified as to the cause. State officials from the Dept. of Public Health said on Friday, they "have detected no food items or environmental exposures that are statistically associated with illness at this time."
"Four of five are female, and their ages range from 18 to 52, with a median of 34. Illness onsets range from (April 15-28); one case was hospitalized overnight for this illness, and no cases have died," said Suleima Salgado, deputy director of communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health, reported CNN.
CNN reported CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said all 14 cases are the same strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli 0145 infection with the same DNA fingerprint.
Louisiana health officials suspect the source may be food-related.
Officials will continue investigations on both the federal and local levels in an effort to determine the root source of the E.Coli.
Often E.Coli outbreaks are related to E. coli O157:H7, the strain generally associated with foods, however, while less common, E.Coli O145 is considered dangerous. The Herald-Tribune reports the CDC has only been tracking this strain "intensively" since 2009.
More about E coli, E coli outbreak, United States, CDC, Centers for disease control
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