Boston Commission Reports E. coli Cases

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The Boston Public Health Commission, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the USDA, is investigating two cases of E. coli O157:H7 in Boston residents. There have been six cases statewide and additional cases in several other states, all of which appear to be caused by the same strain of the bacteria.

A source of contamination has not been identified; however the cluster of illnesses may be linked to the consumption of beef products. The investigation is focused on ground beef, and testing of samples collected from several stores will be conducted this week.

The Commission is reminding the public to consume only fully cooked ground beef. Cooking meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit kills the bacteria.

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* Thoroughly cook all ground beef. Do not eat any ground beef that is still pink in the middle;

* If you are served undercooked ground beef in a restaurant, send it back for further cooking. Ask for a new bun and a clean plate as well;

* Do not put cooked meat or other prepared food on an unwashed dish or cutting board that held raw meat.

E. coli O157:H7 is a type of bacteria that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.

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Researchers Work with Natural Enemies of Bacteria to Deter Prevalent Pathogen on Farms and Feedlots Researchers at The Evergreen State College in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture at Texas A&M have been working to increase food safety by reducing the populations of E. coli in the guts of sheep and cattle. The goal of the research is to increase understanding of the complex predator-prey relationship between bacteria (the prey) and bacteriophages (the viral predator). The research could lead to safer food. More here: http://www.evergreen.edu/news/archive/2008/07/predatorvirus