Friday, June 8, 2012

E. Coli Outbreak in CDC’s Backyard

E. Coli Outbreak in CDC’s Backyard: The nation’s top disease hunters are racing to solve a mysterious outbreak that is unfolding right in their own backyard. The death of an infant in New Orleans last week has been linked to at least 10 other cases of E. coli illness in four...

For any E. coli outbreak at this time of year,suspicions immediately turn to undercooked ground beef. The period from April through September is what scientists call “high-prevalence season” for E. coli.
E. coli are a common bacteria and not every strain is dangerous. But some, like those that carry the 0145 genetic fingerprint that is behind this outbreak, produce a deadly toxin known as shiga. This poison can cause violent reactions, including severe kidney damage and death.
Until this week, the government was not checking meat for the 0145 strain. Just this week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the first time began testing meat for six new strains of E. coli,  including the strain causing this outbreak.
In an unrelated case, a 6-year-old boy in Millbury, Mass., died last week from kidney failure caused by E. coli. Massachusetts health officials said scientists have determined his illness was not caused by the same strain of E. coli as the clusters in the South. Officials in Tennessee said a recent E. coli case in that state was also  unconnected.

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