As if the whole COVID-19 thing wasn't scary enough, now the CDC is investigating an E.coli outbreak and they have no idea where it's originating.

In an investigation notice, the department reports five states, including New York, have reported residents falling ill. Sixteen cases have surfaced with nine hospitalizations, and one death.

CDC is concerned about the growing number of severe illnesses and hospitalizations in this outbreak. If you have E. coli symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider and report your illness to your local health department.

Cases were reported as early as December 23 and the CDC has brought in the USDA and the FDA to assist with the investigation. Part of the tracking problem is reported illnesses are usually two to three weeks behind, and cases where the person isn't hospitalized often go unreported.

So what do you do? Be aware of these symptoms and contact your doctor if you experience any of them::

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
    Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
    Bloody diarrhea
    So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
    Signs of dehydration, not urinating, dry mouth and throat
    Feeling dizzy when standing up

The most common causes of E.coli involve bacteria found in food and water, especially ground beef. If you or a family member have had symptoms, no matter how mild, contact the local health department and share what you have eaten in the past week.

Anytime you are preparing food, the CDC suggest following basic tips for safe food handling:

  • Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often.
    Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, cutting, or peeling.
    Separate food that won’t be cooked from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
    Use a food thermometer to ensure food is cooked to a temperature to kill germs
    Refrigerate foods that go bad quickly.
    Thaw food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

Most people recover from E.coli without treatment after 5 to 7 days. However some may develop a type of kidney failure requiring a hospital visit. The CDC offers more information on the illness on their website.

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