CONCORD, N.H. - State officials are warning residents to properly cook ground beef at home after a New Hampshire outbreak of E. coli bacteria cases all associated with ground beef.
Some 12 people have been infected with the same strain of the bacteria since June, all after eating ground beef, health officials say.
"The Division of Public Health Services is working with our federal partners to investigate the source of the ground beef that is causing people in New Hampshire to become ill," said Marcella Bobinsky, acting director of the state division of public health services.
"Ground beef is a known source of E. coli and it is important for people to avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant. Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to severe illness with this infection."
This outbreak does not present a risk as long as ground beef is cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F.
State officials advise it is best to confirm the temperature with a thermometer, since color is not a very reliable indicator of when is done.
Another precautionary move is for residents to prevent cross contamination in food preparation by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
Escherichia coli or E. coli is bacteria that causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.
If there is fever, it usually is not very high. Most people get better within 5-7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are can be severe or even life threatening.
The very young and elderly are more likely to develop a potentially life threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection because they actually may increase the risk of HUS.