In a statement released today (April 12), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that, based on interviews with the sick people, preliminary evidence suggests that ground beef is the source of the outbreak.
"Ill people in this outbreak report eating ground beef at home and in restaurants", the CDC said in its outbreak update. "At this time, no common supplier, distribution, or brand of ground beef has been identified".
The mystery behind an E. coli outbreak that sickened dozens of people across six states appears to have been solved, with health officials reporting ground beef as the likely source of illness. So far, 109 people have been infected with E. coli O103, an unusual strain of the bacteria.
Seventeen people have been hospitalized. Half of the cases are in Kentucky.
In the meantime, the CDC reminds consumers to prevent E. coli by washing hands, cooking ground beef to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, as measured with a meat thermometer, and keeping foods that aren't cooked away from raw beef to prevent cross-contamination. The others are Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Already, this is the third-largest multistate E. coli outbreak reported in 20 years, the CDC said. Eighty-four of them reported eating ground beef in the week before their symptoms began, according to the CDC.
"Ill people bought or ate ground beef from several different grocery stores and restaurants". Symptoms include diarrhea, which can be bloody, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Most people recover in five to seven days. This is especially true for pregnant women, newborns, older or elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems.