The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is investigating the outbreak with the CDC, said it is “examining all possibilities, including that contamination may have occurred at any point along the growing, harvesting, packaging, and distribution chain before reaching consumers”.
People who consume harmful E coli bacteria can experience symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, fatigue, nausea and vomiting within three to four days. Most people recover from this within a week but in some cases it can develop into more serious conditions such as kidney failure, which can be fatal.
Children aged under five-years-old, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk from E coli, although even healthy young adults can become “seriously ill,” the CDC said.
The FDA recommends that people wash hands, utensils and surfaces with hot water before handling food, as well as keep their refrigerators clean. Those who experience symptoms similar to those infected by the E coli bacteria are urged to immediately seek medical treatment.