Officials looking to find source of E. coli outbreak

June 8, 2012 7:05:30 AM PDT
Federal health officials are racing to find the source of a mysterious and deadly new outbreak of E. coli before it spreads to anywhere outside of the south.

There are 11 reported cases in the south -- Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Louisiana. One proved fatal, a New Orleans toddler died last week. The CDC believes the little girl and the others all caught the same dangerous strain. It has a genetic fingerprint that produces a deadly toxin which can cause violent reactions, kidney damage and death.

"We know that these cases are all linked and that would suggest that there was a common source somewhere along the way, we just don't know where," said J. Patrick O'Neal of the Georgia Department of Public Health.

There have been no cases reported in California.

It's not clear if this is a food borne outbreak, but, E. coli is typically found in undercooked chicken and beef. To protect yourself, wash your hands after handling raw chicken, cook your chicken and beef thoroughly and wash fruits and vegetables.

Until now, the government was not checking meat for this strain of E. Coli. It was just this week, that the USDA began testing meat for six new strains -- including this one.


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