The federal government says a meat company in Georgia has recalled tons of ground beef for possible contamination with E. coli bacteria.
Of the people infected so far, 20 have been hospitalized, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.
K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods in Carrolton, Georgia, is recalling about 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103, according to the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Kentucky, Tennessee and Georgia have seen the highest number of cases, with 65, 41 and 33, respectively.
"Illnesses that occurred after March 26 might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill with E. coli and when the illness is reported". The recall came about 10 hours after a CDC update on the outbreak said the investigation couldn't find commonality in the ground beef involved. Health officials noted that states are investigating additional illnesses that might be a part of this outbreak. While some said they got ground beef from grocery stores, others said they had it at a restaurant. The product was shipped to distributors in Ft.
The CDC is now conducting investigations into the source of the contaminated beef.
"Traceback investigations are ongoing to determine the source of raw ground beef supplied to grocery stores and restaurant locations where ill people reported eating", the CDC said.
But consumers and restaurants should handle ground beef safely and cook it thoroughly to avoid passing on any illness, the CDC says.
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.
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. The first reported symptoms from this outbreak began March 2. Most people recover in five to seven days.