An E. Coli outbreak in New Hampshire, which reportedly sickened a dozen people in June, was traced back to under-cooked ground beef. Authorities cautioned that since ground beef is a good environment for bacteria to thrive in, people should not eat it until it is properly thermally processed be it at home or in restaurants.
New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DPHS) said that the E. Coli infections are caused by an outbreak since the same strain of the pathogen (E. coli O157:H7) was found in all 12 cases. There are no reports on whether the patients needed hospitalization.
DPHS director Marcella Bobinsky recently said that the agency is currently running an investigation to learn what company produced the contaminated ground beef. Bobinsky urged population to consume the product, regardless of its source, only well-done. She underscored that the age group with the highest risk of infection are the elderly and small children.
Health authorities found that patients ate contaminated meat at separate locations. The USDA and New Hampshire epidemiologists at DPHS are trying to find out where the meet was produced. Experts say that there is little risk of contracting the disease if basic food safety rules are followed.
According to the rules, any type of ground meat should be cooked thoroughly. The safe minimum temperature is at least 160 degrees F. Experts recommend using a meat thermometer as color can provide a poor hint on how well the meat is done.
Another rule is to avoid cross-contamination of surfaces. So, ensure that you wash your hands and kitchen tools before and after processing meat. Surfaces should also be sanitized after they came into contact with raw meat.
State residents are advised to avoid eating burgers and other fast-food items that were not cooked too well. Health experts explained that E. Coli thrives in the gut of ruminant animals including goats and cows. If the gut bursts when the animal is killed, the bacteria contaminate some meat cuts.
Ground meat boosts the proliferation of bacteria because when the meat is ground up the bugs can contaminate the entire meat.
People affected by E.Coli infection have severe abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes bloody diarrhea. People with no underlying health conditions can get well within a week. But ill people, small children, and seniors can develop a complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome, which could cause stroke, kidney failure and even death.
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