What is CDC Doing in Response to the Outbreak of E. coli O157 Infections Associated with Taco Bell restaurants?
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CDC is working with state and local health departments, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the outbreak of E. coli O157 infections related to Taco Bell restaurants. Public health officials from these agencies are working together to rapidly detect infections, identify the source of the infections, and provide information on treatment and prevention of E. coli O157 infections for the public and health care providers. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the outbreak, prevent new cases, and ensure that all contaminated products are identified.
- CDC is conducting national surveillance with state and local health authorities to monitor the extent of the outbreak and whether it is ongoing or ended.
- Scientists at CDC are working with state and local health departments to identify sick persons related to the outbreak and to identify the food item that made them ill. The outbreak response team is currently working in the Director’s Emergency Operations Center to speed the response to the multi-state outbreak and to coordinate efforts with CDC’s state and local partners in the investigation. The ongoing investigations include interviews of ill and well Taco Bell restaurant patrons about what food items they consumed. By comparing foods consumed by ill and well persons, investigators can show statistical links to particular food ingredients. Public health officials are focusing on ingredients that were consumed significantly more often by ill persons than by well persons. This method, called a case-control study, is the standard epidemiologic method used to investigate an outbreak.
- The PulseNet system is being used to match illnesses in people to those in the outbreak. As of December 12, 2006, 47 of the 67 cases of E. coli O157 infections have been confirmed, meaning that the patients’ E. coli O157 strains have the current outbreak “DNA fingerprint.” The PulseNet network of public health and regulatory laboratories coordinated by CDC , allows for rapid comparison of “DNA fingerprints” of bacteria like E. coli O157. These comparisons are used to determine whether cases of E. coli O157 infection are possibly related, whether outbreaks in different parts of the country may be linked, and whether E. coli O157 strains isolated from foods match those isolated from sick people in an outbreak. As a result of testing by PulseNet, cases with the outbreak strain “fingerprint” pattern are being re-classified as confirmed cases, and cases with an unrelated “fingerprint” pattern are being dropped from the outbreak case count.
- CDC continues to make communication a priority by providing rapid and consistent health messaging to the general population.
Page last modified December 13, 2006