Coli Mystery Solved: Ground Beef Is Source of Outbreak, CDC Says

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Health officials say ground beef is the likely source of a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened more than 100 people in six states. Sixty-three of the 75 people they interviewed - 84% - reported eating ground beef.

No common brand or supplier of the tainted meat has been identified yet, and the investigation is ongoing.

Seventeen people have been hospitalized.

Hamburgers, meatloaf and other ground beef meals are probably still safe to eat, the CDC stressed, and retailers can still sell ground beef in stores.

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"Most people get diarrhea [often bloody], severe stomach cramps and vomiting", the agency said.

Anyone expericing symptoms of an E.coli infection are encouraged by the CDC to contact their healthcare provider "if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102˚F, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you can not keep liquids down and you pass very little urine".

There have been 109 confirmed individual cases of E. coli infection, so far. Some studies have shown that administering antibiotics to patients with E. coli infections might increase their risk of developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, and a benefit of treatment has not been clearly demonstrated. No deaths have been reported. "Many ill people bought large trays or chubs of ground beef from grocery stores and used the meat to make dishes like spaghetti sauce and sloppy joe", the CDC said.

"To kill harmful germs, cook beef steaks and roasts to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit and allow to rest for three minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove", the CDC advises. "Wash hands with soap and water after touching raw ground beef". After cooking the beef, refrigerate it within 2 hours and use it within 3 or 4 days. It would also be helpful for people to recall and write down everything they consumed the week before getting sick.

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