KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — East Tennessee Children’s Hospital has treated just over a dozen children sickened from E. coli infection since Jan. 1, 2019, according to UTMC spokesperson Erica Estep.
The USDA and FDA are investigating a multi-state outbreak of E. coli that has infected 96 people across five states and hospitalized eleven people as of April 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website.
Estep said Friday that 13 children were sickened from the infection but they don't know yet if they had the same strain as the national outbreak.
"Of those 13 it is unclear how many may be connected to the E. coli 0103 strain from the most recent outbreak. The CDC and state health dept. are investigating," Estep said.
Knox County Health Department officials confirmed to 10News that as of April 11, the county had recorded 10 cases of E. coli related to the outbreak.
There were a total of 26 cases in Tennessee as of April 9 that were part of the outbreak, the CDC said on its website.
The CDC has not been able to find the cause of the outbreak-- neither a specific food item, grocery store, nor restaurant chain has been identified as the source of infections, the agency said on its website.
In most of the cases recorded by the CDC, the illness onset between March 8 and March 23, although there was a spike around March 29.
Cases of the illness that started as far back as March 15 also may still not yet have been reported, the agency noted.
The CDC has not currently started advising consumers or businesses to avoid certain foods but will update that advise if a source of the outbreak is identified.
If you have an infection, the CDC says to:
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
- Report your illness to the health department.
- Assist public health investigators by answering questions about your illness.
How can you avoid an infection? The CDC says to wash your hands frequently, cook meats thoroughly to kill germs, thoroughly wash food prep areas or utensils that touch raw meat, wash fruits and veggies before eating and avoid any raw milk or unpasteurized dairy or juice products.
Last but not least, don't prepare food or drinks for other people if you yourself are sick.
For more information from the CDC, click here.