ATLANTA (Gray News) – An E. coli outbreak in the eastern half of the United States has expanded to 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Health officials say ground beef is the likely source of a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened 156 people.
The biggest outbreaks are in Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia, but there are also reported cases in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio and Virginia.
The CDC says people can continue to eat ground beef. The meat should be cooked thoroughly to 160 degrees to kill germs.
The illnesses began in early March, according to the CDC.
To avoid the contagion, the CDC advises people to wash their hands, cook meats thoroughly, avoid cross-contamination of food preparation areas, wash fruits and vegetables, avoid unpasteurized dairy products and juices and don’t prepare food for others when you are sick.
Symptoms include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting, with some people running a low fever.
A life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome can develop in up to 10 percent of E. coli illnesses and develops a week after the onset of symptoms.
People with this complication should be hospitalized. Signs that this complication has developed include losing color in cheeks, lower urination frequency and extreme tiredness.