ATLANTA – Investigators believe ground beef may be to blame after 156 people in 10 states contracted E. coli since March 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
The CDC is trying to trace the cases, which include people eating beef at home and in restaurants, to their source. No supplier, distributor or brand of beef has been identified.
No deaths have been reported, but 20 people have been hospitalized for treatment.
The majority of the cases occurred in Tennessee, Kentucky, and Georgia, but consumers also became ill in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia.
People who ingest the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli usually start feeling sick about three to four days later, and may experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhea – often bloody – and vomiting. It usually goes away in five to seven days, but may be life-threatening in some cases.
The CDC said Tuesday that they aren’t recommending that people stop eating or buying ground beef, but urge consumers to make sure the meat is safely handled and fully cooked.
The CDC continues to investigate and will provide updates as they become available.
See the CDC website for more information on E. coli, how to safely prepare meat and updates on the investigation.