HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Officials are investigating a five state E. Coli outbreak, including two cases in Alabama.
The bacteria caused the death of Maelan Elizabeth Graffanini, a 21-month-old girl from New Orleans, and has infected adults across several states. Health officials are investigating cases in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee.
Health officials have not pinpointed the cause of the outbreak. Some suspected the source may have been direct contact with animals at a petting zoo, but health officials told KMAS news they do not believe petting zoos are the source. It is much more likely the outbreak is spreading through food.
The CDC web site said between five and ten percent of people with this particular type of E. Coli can be come very sick and possibly die.
The initial symptoms of this toxic E. Coli begin slowly with mild belly pain or diarrhea that worsens over several days.
After a week, patients who are seriously ill won't be able to urinate as they normally would and can lose the pink color in their cheeks or inner eyelids. Children and elderly people are especially likely to become seriously ill from E. Coli, but anyone can get it.
Health officials recommend hand washing after handling raw meat or touching non-domesticated animals as preventative measures.