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FDA doesn’t reveal details about investigation into new E. coli outbreak


The FDA is investigating a new outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections but little else has been released in the way of details.

As of Oct. 26 the outbreak has 10 confirmed patients, according to a statement from the Food and Drug Administration. The agency is reporting that the source of the E. coli is unknown.

The agency did not report where the patients live or their ages. The FDA also did not indicate whether any of the patients have been hospitalized.

The FDA statement says traceback efforts have begun, but the agency has not revealed what food or foods are being traced.

As of this afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not posted any information about the outbreak. That is the CDC’s usual practice until a specific source of a pathogen is identified or found to be suspect.

About E. coli infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor. 

Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients. 

People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.

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