CDC Investigates Multi-State Outbreak of E. Coli

The Center for Disease Control has collaborated with public health officials in several states, from California to Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, to investigate an outbreak of E. coli.

The CDC reports that as of April 1, 2011, eight people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli serotype O157:H7. The onset of the illness was from December 20, 2010 to February 16, 2011. Fifty-percent of those affected were hospitalized, but none reported kidney failure that is associated with E. coli O157:H7 infections. No deaths were reported. Although the outbreak now appears to be over, illnesses that occurred after March 17, 2011, might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported.

The CDC has also reported that the outbreak seems to have resulted from eating in-shell hazelnuts, which were purchased from bulk bins at retail food stores. Source tracing identified a common distributor for the hazelnuts consumed by ill persons: DeFranco & Sons in Los Angeles, California. DeFranco & Sons has already voluntarily recalled bulk and consumer-packaged in-shell hazelnuts and mixed-nut products containing hazelnuts. These nuts may have been sold by retailers nationwide. The in-shell nuts may have been sold in two-pound and four-pound packages of mixed nuts, one-pound packages containing only hazelnuts, or in open bins of nuts in grocery stores.

The CDC reports that most of those infected with E. coli O157:H7 develop bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps two to eight days after ingesting the organism. Some illnesses last longer and are more severe. Although most people recover within a week, some develop a severe infection, and kidney failure can occur. The condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children under 5 years old and the elderly.

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