CDC Investigating 2 Multi-State E. Coli Outbreaks Of ‘Unknown Source’


  • The CDC is investigating the source of two E. coli outbreaks with sources that were unknown as of Monday
  • The two outbreaks have caused multiple illnesses and one death
  • People are being advised to practice food safety 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating two separate E. coli outbreaks affecting several states. With the source of the outbreaks still unknown, people are being advised to take food safety precautions. 

The CDC recently posted investigation notices regarding the “two different E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks” that it and other public health agencies are investigating. Both outbreaks have affected multiple people, and the causes of the outbreaks are still considered “unknown,” as of this artuicle. 

“CDC is not advising that people avoid any particular food at this time,” the CDC said in both notices. “Investigators are still working to identify the food item that is making people sick.”

‘Unknown Source 1’

The first outbreak, dubbed by the agency as “Unknown Source 1,” has since affected 21 people from Florida, California, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Utah, Ohio and Wisconsin as of Oct. 28. The age of affected individuals range from 2 to 75 years old, several of whom had to be hospitalized.

The illnesses reportedly started from June 6, 2020, to Oct. 5, 2020.  Unfortunately, one patient from Michigan died.

Investigation on Unknown Source 1 has yet to lead to a specific source of the outbreak, but several of the affected people were “identified as part of an illness cluster” related to a restaurant, suggesting a possible common source.

The CDC also reported that the E. coli 0157:H7 strain in this outbreak has been linked to previous outbreaks, including an outbreak in romaine lettuce in 2018.

“However, food linked to a previous outbreak alone is not enough to prove a link in another outbreak of the same strain,” the CDC said. “This is because different foods can be contaminated by the same strain of bacteria.”

As such, the source of this outbreak remains unknown.

‘Unknown Source 2’

As for “Unknown Source 2,” the CDC had logged 23 illnesses from California, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin as of Oct. 28.

In this case, the age of ill people range from 5 to 81 years old. Of the available data from 15 people, 10 reportedly had to be hospitalized, two of whom developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUM).

The illnesses reportedly began from Aug. 17, 2020, to Oct. 8, 2020. No deaths have been reported.

So far, interviews of 13 of the affected people revealed the consumption of different types of leafy greens including iceberg lettuce, mixed bag lettuce, and spinach. According to the CDC, the strain in this particular outbreak is the same as the one that caused an outbreak in 2019.

That said, just like in Unknown Source 1, that is not enough to link this outbreak to the previous one.

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