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72 People Ill From E. Coli Outbreak, What Is The Cause?

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Pictured here is one strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli. (Photo: Getty Images)

Oh 103, no. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that at least 72 people in 5 states have already gotten sick from an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) O103. Therefore, for now, be careful when eating anything. Anything? Yes, anything.

That’s because so far there is no clear cause of the outbreak that has affected at least 8 people in Georgia, 36 people in Kentucky, 5 in Ohio, 21 in Tennessee, and 2 in Virginia and has resulted in at least 8 hospitalizations.  A timeline provided by the CDC shows that illnesses started on March 2 , 2019. Those affected have ranged in age from one year old to 74 years young. The median age of people who have gotten ill is 17 years.

I’ve already written for Forbes about another STEC, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli, that goes by the name O157:H7. This agent, not to be confused with 007, was the cause of the outbreak that was eventually linked to Romaine lettuce last year. A STEC by any name is not good. Besides causing all kinds of poop, including bloody poop, that starts 2 to 8 days after entering your mouth, a STEC can, in some cases, be life threatening.

The biggest concern is hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). As I have described before, this is HUS and it’s not good: the Shiga toxin triggers destruction of your red blood cells, which can then result in pieces of red blood cells clogging up your kidneys, your kidneys potentially failing, and you potentially dying. The typical symptoms of an “uncomplicated” STEC infection are bad stomach cramps, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. You should worry about HUS if you develop a fever, a pale skin tone, fatigue and irritability, small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose and mouth, and especially decreased urination.

STEC can be all kinds of different foods and beverages. The Foodsafety.gov website includes the following examples:

  • Contaminated food, especially undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized (raw) milk and juice, soft cheeses made from raw milk, and raw fruits and vegetables (such as sprouts)
  • Contaminated water, including drinking untreated water and swimming in contaminated water
  • Animals and their environment: particularly cows, sheep, and goats. If you don’t wash your hands carefully after touching an animal or its environment, you could get an E. coli infection
  • Feces of infected people

So take precautions when potentially eating or drinking anything, including the feces of other people. I know, I know, you say that feces is not part of your diet. But you would be surprised by how much poop gets around if you don’t wash your hands. So wash your feces-ed hands, frequently and thoroughly, especially when handling food or your mouth.

Here’s how:

Besides washing your hands, which you should do frequently and thoroughly, the CDC recommends that you cook meats thoroughly (steaks and roasts to at least 145˚F and ground beef and pork to at least 160˚F), thoroughly clean anything that touches raw meat, wash fruits and vegetables before eating them, and avoid raw dairy products and unpasteurized juices. Oh, and you should wash your hands, thoroughly and frequently.

For now, the CDC and other authorities are searching for a source of this latest STEC outbreak. Therefore, wait for updates and wash your hands, thoroughly and frequently. The aforementioned food safety recommendations should apply regardless of whether there is a STEC outbreak. In other words, don’t return to wearing raw meat masks, guzzling raw milk, licking cutting boards clean, using unwashed celery as floss, and not washing your hands, frequently and thoroughly after an outbreak has passed.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here

My career has spanned the worlds of digital and computational health, business, academia, medicine, global health, and writing. Currently, I am the Executive Director of..

Source: 72 People Ill From E. Coli Outbreak, What Is The Cause?

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53% of Small Business Owners Worry Over Cost of Healthcare – Michael Guta

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A recent survey of America’s small business owners suggests more than half or 53% count the cost of providing healthcare insurance for their employees as a key concern.

Worried About the Cost of Small Business Health Insurance

Healthcare costs eat up a huge chunk of the small business operation budget. According to the NFIB’s Index of Small Business Optimism, the biggest challenge for small business owners is healthcare. And the eHealth report, Small Business Health Insurance: Costs, Trends and Insights 2017 indicates close to 80% of small business owners worry about the cost.

While in most cases small business owners operate locally, developments outside their region and other macro trends may also have an impact. These issues include everything from higher healthcare costs to taxes and regulations which affect day to day operations.

In the press release announcing the SmallBiz Loans survey, company CEO Evan Singer points out how these trends affect owners. Singer explains, “The survey illustrates that small business owners are aware of macro trends that may impact their business. But their focus is instead on the day-to-day functions of running their company. And the great news is that the new tax plan is helping to drive immediate growth.”

The new tax plan is important to many small business owners too. According to the survey, 52% of respondents gave changes in the new tax law as a key business consideration. The new tax law has been cited by 35% of business owners as a driver for making changes in their operations, with 10% reporting they are making additional investments in new staff and equipment.

But challenges in recruiting talent also rate high. In this time of low unemployment, finding talent is becoming a big problem for businesses of all sizes. In the survey, 49% of business owners reported finding and hiring quality employees is a top concern. And when it comes to hiring new talent, for nine out of 10 of the respondents experience is more of a priority than education.

As it becomes harder to find qualified employees, 31% of respondents to the survey said they are willing to hire candidates with fewer qualifications and train them. At the same time, small businesses are providing more incentives, with 51% of owners offering flexible working arrangements and another 33% higher wages.

Regarding how small business owners feel about the economy, close to 57% of owners said they remain bullish, stating their outlook over the next 12 months was fairly positive or positive. And as some businesses look to grow, they will require funding.

Funding was another key issue touched upon. Securing this funding is getting easier according to 22% of respondents. But getting this capital has become more expensive, with 49% saying they agree or strongly agree the price of credit has gone up.

The survey was carried out from April 9 through April 17, 2018, with the participation of 289 small business owners across the United States. They were questioned on several subjects including financing, growth plans for the year, hiring, talent, and concern for their businesses.

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