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green romaine lettuce with black background

 I was surprised when I heard last month that E.coli cases were on the rise in Wood County, the county I live and work in. Currently, there are 23 known cases of Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli (STEC) E. coli identified by our local health department.  This is a huge increase from cases in the past. For example, in the last five and a half years the county has logged 27 E. coli cases. Of the 23 cases to date, 7 people from my community have been hospitalized, with ages ranging from 21- 60. According to the CDC , a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce before getting sick. Center for Disease Control also reports that E.coli cases  have been found in  Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York.

So, you may ask what is  Escherichia coli  (E. coli)? Well, E. coli can be found in intestines of animals and people, our foods and our environment. Most are harmless and can be a part of a healthy immune system. However, some E. coli can cause a lot of harm to the body. It can cause diarrhea, fever, severe vomiting and even kidney problems. Most people with (STEC) infection start to feel ill 3 to 4 days after eating something that contains the bacteria. However, people can feel ill anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

 Ways to prevent the spread of E. Coli

                Good Personal Hygiene

A person washing their hands with soap and water
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after preparing food, after using the restroom and changing diapers.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with animals such as farms, petting zoos, fairs and even your own animal.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing or feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler and before touching their mouths, and pacifiers.

Wash fruits and vegetables

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says it has already been washed.

Cook meats thoroughly

  • Cook ground beef a minimum temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe  minimum internal temperature.

Written by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Reviewed by: Shannon Smith RD, LD, CDCES, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Coordinator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

woodcountyhealth.org

https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-poisoning

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