An E. coli outbreak investigation is underway as health officials work to locate the source of the epidemic that has left at least 17 people from several states sick over the past four weeks.
To date there have been six reported cases in New Jersey, four reported cases in Idaho, two reported cases each in Pennsylvania and Connecticut and one case each reported in Washington, Missouri and Ohio each, CNN reported.
Of the 17 cases, at least six involved hospitalization.
“The investigation is still ongoing and a specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of infections,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Tuesday.
NJ.com reported last week that health officials were investigating Panera Bread in Phillipsburg, Warren County following the recent outbreak.
Sarah Perramant, public health epidemiologist in Warren County, noted that a “cluster” of E. coli cases had prompted health officials to conduct further testing and investigations, but noted that it was still too early to concretely establish whether Panera was the source of the outbreak.
However, CDC said Tuesday that it was not recommending consumers avoid any particular food and that restaurants and retailers were not advised to avoid serving or selling any particular food.
Reports of E. coli related illnesses first emerged between March 22 and March 31, among people aged 12 to 84 years, with a median age of 41, the CDC said.
About 65 percent of those cases affected females and, while no deaths have been reported, one person developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure.
The CDC said that state and local public health officials are in the process of interviewing those who have E. coli related illness to determine what they ate and what other exposures they may have encountered in the week before their illness started.
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