As of Tuesday, there were 16 people infected with E. coli O121 from 12 different states including Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Oregon and Washington.
The CDC says it is working with public health and regulatory officials in multiple states as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to collect data regarding the outbreak.
Tracing the roots
Whole-genome sequencing showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically, meaning patients in the outbreak likely got sick from the same food.
Cake mix is under investigation since six out of the eight people interviewed by local health officials reported tasting or eating raw batter made with a cake mix. They reported buying different brands and varieties of cake mix.
All those sick are females and the cases began on dates ranging from Feb. 26 to June 21, Transcontinental Times learned from Food Safety News.
Infected people range in age from 2 to 73 years old, with a median of 13. 75% are children under the age of 18. Children are more likely to have a severe E. coli infection.
Of 16 people with information available, seven have been hospitalized. One person has developed a type of kidney failure but no deaths have been reported.
FDA says it is doing a traceback investigation to try to determine a common brand or production facility, using purchase records from locations where the sick people bought cake mix.
The CDC advises people to not eat raw cake batter, no matter if it is homemade or store-bought. “Eating raw cake batter can make you sick,” said the CDC. “Raw cake batter can contain harmful bacteria. Bacteria are killed only when the raw batter is baked or cooked.” The agency’s Say No to Raw Dough initiative urges people to follow safe food handling guidelines.
CDC also told the public not to make milkshakes with products that contain raw foods such as cake mix, flour, or eggs, and to keep such raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods.
On Thursday, the CDC also recalled over 295,000 pounds of raw beef that originated in an Omaha, Nebraska meatpacking facility due to E. coli concerns.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, excessive vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, and signs of dehydration. Some patients may also have a fever higher than 102 degrees. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the CDC.