E. Coli Outbreaks
Public health officials are able to identify an outbreak when they recognize a pattern of intestinal illnesses that spring up quickly and affect many people.
Since 2006, the U.S. has experienced at least oneE. colioutbreak each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Scientists first recognizedE. coliO157 as a pathogen in 1982.
But the public had little awareness of the bacteria until 1993, when undercooked hamburgers from the Jack in the Box restaurant chain gaveE. coliO157 to over 700 people across multiple states.
The outbreak killed four children, according to a 2005 article inEmerging Infectious Diseases.
In an effort to prevent such a large outbreak from happening again, the U.S. Department of Agriculture implemented new regulations a few years later, which were designed to help prevent contaminated meat and poultry in processing plants from reaching the public.
Around the same time, the CDC implemented a surveillance program to identify foodborne outbreaks more quickly than had ever been possible.
The program, called PulseNet, is a collaboration between 87 laboratories across the U.S. (there is also an international version of PulseNet that includes 83 countries).
When laboratory technicians diagnose a patient withE. coli(or another pathogen), they take an identifying DNA "fingerprint" of the pathogen, which is then uploaded to an electronic database.
Microbiologists and epidemiologists can then review laboratory reports and the fingerprints, and look for patterns that could indicate that a patient's illness is part of a larger outbreak.
The CDC also implemented other programs, such as the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), to track, study, and identify the sources of outbreaks.
Chipotle E. Coli Outbreak
Despite the new measures,E. colioutbreaks still occur today, but they're less severe than the 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak.
In 2015, an outbreak ofE. coliinfection was linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants.
Sixty cases ofE. coliinfection were reported across 11 states, according to the CDC, and 22 people were hospitalized.
The outbreak was caused by the Shiga toxin-producingE. coliO26 (STEC O26) strain of the bacteria.
Other RecentE. ColiOutbreaks
E. coliO157 has caused at least one outbreak each year since 2006, most of which affected a few dozen people at most (the 2006 spinach outbreak, however, infected some 200 people, killing three), according to the CDC.
Sources of the O157 outbreaks include:
- Frozen pizza
- Prepackaged cookie dough
- Spring mix blend
- Ready-to-eat salads
Other strains have also caused outbreaks in recent years.
For example,E. coliO145 caused an outbreak from romaine lettuce in 2010 and another outbreak from an unknown food source in 2012.
On the other hand,E. coliO26 caused a 29-person outbreak in 2012, which was traced back to raw clover sprouts served at various Jimmy John's restaurants in the country.
AndE. coliO21 caused a multistate outbreak in 2013 linked to Farm Rich brand frozen food products, and an outbreak from raw clover sprouts in 2014.
The bacteria have also caused recent outbreaks in other countries. The largeE. coliO104 outbreak of 2011 affected nearly 4,000 people and killed more than 50 people.
Though the outbreak mostly affected Germany, numerous other European nations, as well as Canada and the United States, also reported cases ofE. coliinfections, which stemmed from fenugreek sprouts grown at a German organic farm.
Video: Romaine lettuce warning after E. coli outbreak
Vanilla Sugar Cookies
How to Use Up Left over Bolognese Sauce or Chilli
18 Holiday Beauty Gifts You Should Probably Just Buy forYourself
Bachelorette Party: Fun Ideas That Aren’t Strip Clubs
How to Juice to Lose Weight
See The Full Collection: Issa FW 14
A Wearable Patch Might Help Manage Diabetes Painlessly
This set of routers will solve your Wi-Fi problems for good
What With and How to Wear Tights
Our Editors Share the One Piece of Home Décor They Can’t LiveWithout
The Rock Clock: An Alarm That Gets You Out of Bed (And Motivated)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markles Exact Wedding Date Has Been Announced