CDC investigates E.coli outbreak in several states

US health officials say they are investigating an outbreak of E. coli gastrointestinal illness that's already affected 72 people across five Eastern states.

In an earlier report, a health official from Kentucky said possible culprits include beef, chicken, and sliced American cheese and that fast food is a source of concern, based on some early reports. The CDC has a collection of these fingerprints in a database that aides in identifying potential outbreaks. Illnesses started on the dates from March 2 to March 29. The agency added that state officials are probing more illnesses that might be part of the outbreak.

Escherichia coli, or E.coli bacteria, normally lives in the intestines of healthy people and animals.

The origin of the foodborne illnesses remains unknown, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Friday. Although no deaths have been reported, "of 47 people with information available, eight have been hospitalized" because their cases have been so severe, the CDC said. Ill people range in age from 1 to 74 years, with a median age of 17. Fifty-five percent of the affected are female.

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According to the CDC, "This investigation is still ongoing and a specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of infections".

The CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food at this time. Antibiotics are not recommended for patients with suspected E. coli infections until testing has been performed.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you're interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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