E.coli outbreak spreads to Hamilton County

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) — With the outbreak strain of E. coli spreading, there is one confirmed case in Hamilton County.

Right now, six states have people with this bacterial infection.

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Kentucky has the most with 54 cases. Tennessee has 28 and Georgia has 17.

At the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department, they’ve seen one case of the strain that is causing the E. coli outbreak.

“It is a bacterial infection that is normally occurring in everyone’s gut. So we want to get that message out quickly that this is normal. It works with us. It is a good thing for most of us, but when we have certain outbreaks like we are seeing right now with strains that are probably not part of what is normally in our gut, that is when we start to have problems,” said Sharon Goforth, with the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department.

The best way to avoid getting E.coli is to wash your hands.

“Normally it is eliminated through the bowel movement, so you are actually ingesting fecal material from something that has been contaminated,” Goforth said.

According to the health department, these outbreaks usually happen from contaminated food.

“So if you’ve got food that you are handling and you are not washing your hands and it is contaminated and then you infect yourself or very often if the food is not cooked properly, once again especially if we are talking ground meet, it is not cooked to an internal temperature of a certain degree, that bacteria could still be alive there and if you ingest it then you are infecting yourself,” Goforth said.

Health experts suggest people be extra careful when they are in the kitchen.

“Make sure you don’t cross contaminate, if you are working with meat and then working with vegetables, make sure you are washing all of your foods especially something you are not going to cook. If you are going to have raw vegetables or fruit wash those and make sure you are not cross contaminating,” Goforth said.

According to the CDC, there are currently more than 100 cases of E.coli in the United States.

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