The Georgia Department of Public Health on Wednesday confirmed 17 cases of E. coli in Georgia, after a multistate outbreak was reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Nearly 100 people in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia have become sick, but no deaths have been reported.
“Because this is an ongoing investigation, the number of cases is expected to increase,” Georgia DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam said in a news release.
DPH is interviewing the people who became ill, asking them about foods they ate in the week before they got sick and looking for any other exposures or commonalities. The CDC has not yet determined the source of the outbreak.
“Most people recover from E. coli O103 infections within a week, but some illnesses last longer and can be more severe, resulting in a type of kidney failure,” said chief science officer and state epidemiologist Cherie Drenzek. “It is crucial that the public understands how serious E. coli O103 infections can be, and to heed all recommended precautions about handwashing and food preparation.”
Officials say the best preventative measures are hand washing, cooking meats thoroughly — to at least 160 degrees for pork and ground beef — and washing all fruits and vegetables. Also, consumers are urged to avoid unpasteurized dairy and apple juice products.