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Almost 160 people across 10 states have been infected with the strain of E. coli spreading across the country in the latest outbreak, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.
The outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O103, which began between March 1 and April 7, has sickened 156 people in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia. Kentucky has the most cases, 65, the CDC said Wednesday.
Twenty people have been hospitalized so far, but no one has died or suffered from kidney failure, health officials said. The patients range from 1 to 83 years old.
Preliminary results from an ongoing investigation point to ground beef as the source of the outbreak, but the CDC have not yet identified a common supplier, distributor or brand of ground beef.
"USDA-FSIS and state regulatory officials are continuing their traceback investigations to determine the source of raw ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurants where ill people reported eating," the CDC said.
At this time, the CDC is not recommending that people avoid consuming ground beef or that retailers stop serving or selling it. It's recommended that consumers and restaurants handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid contamination.
The CDC, several states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating the multistate outbreak.
It takes roughly 3 to 4 days after consuming food with the bacteria for the symptoms to appear. Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting. Some people with the infection may also get a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome and that usually lasts 5 to 7 days, according to the CDC.
Last year, an E. coli outbreak linked to romaine lettuce sickened 62 people across 16 states and Washington, D.C.