E. coli cases have been popping up around Washington and several other states over the last month. A report from The Sky Valley Chronicle provides a CDC update on the situation:

Revised numbers from the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) show that as of this past Friday June 27, a total of 18 people have now been infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) in five states.

Washington State has the largest number of confirmed cases at 11.

Epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Moyie Springs, Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak.

The CDC and FDA recommend that consumers do not eat any raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts and that retailers do not sell or serve them.

E. coli is a group of bacteria that can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and pain, nausea, and vomiting. The infection itself is not considered life-threatening, but allowing symptoms to go untreated may lead to troubling complications like severe dehydration.

If you have recently consumed a brand of raw clover sprouts identified as the source of the outbreak, you may be at risk of acquiring the same infection but may not be showing symptoms yet. The incubation period of E. coli infection is from 2-3 weeks from initial exposure. As such, actively monitor your body for symptoms.

If any symptoms develop, do not self-medicate. Although E. coli is a bacterial infection, the use of antibiotics is highly discouraged; the same goes for antidiarrheal medication. Most E. coli infections clear up on their own after 5 to 10 days of managing the symptoms. If symptoms become too much to bear, you must drop by a facility for occupational medicine and urgent care in Federal Way, like U.S. HealthWorks Medical Group, for treatment.

Luckily, there are certain things you can do to minimize the risk of infection. According to Federal way urgent care doctors, E. coli dies when exposed to temperatures of 158°F. When cooking, you can use a cooking thermometer to make sure that every inch reaches at least 158°F. You should also use separate chopping boards and knives for preparing different dishes to avoid cross-contamination.

(Source: 18 E. Coli Cases in Five States Linked to Raw Clover Sprouts; The Sky Valley Chronicle; June 29, 2014)