CDC launches ‘rapidly evolving' investigation into E. coli outbreak that includes Virginia

In this handout photo provided by the Helmholtz Center for Research on Infectious Diseases an EHEC bacteria is visible on May 30, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo Courtesay Manfred Rohde, Helmholtz-Zentrum fuer Infektionsforschung (HZI)/Getty Images)

The Centers for Disease Control is working to find the source of an E. coli outbreak that has sickened dozens of people in five states - including Virginia - since early March.

They say 72 people of all ages have been infected – with eight of those infected winding up in hospitals.

No deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

The cases have been recorded in five states – Georgia (8), Kentucky (36), Ohio (5), Tennessee (21), and Virginia (2).

According to the CDC, the investigation is “rapidly evolving,” but they haven’t isolated the cause to any one food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain.

The agency is recommending that people take normal hygienic precautions for the time being.

The following guidelines should help prevent E. coli infection:

•    Wash your hands. Wash hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after contact with animals.
•    Cook meats thoroughly to kill harmful germs. Cook steaks and roasts to at least 145 degrees and let rest for three minutes after you remove meat from the grill or stove. Cook ground beef and pork to at least 160 degrees. Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the meat.
•    Don’t cross-contaminate food preparation areas. Thoroughly wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
•    Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says the contents have been washed.
•    Avoid raw milk, other unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices.
•    Don’t prepare food or drink for others when you are sick.

For additional details, visit the CDC’s website.

FOX 5 created this report from Washington, D.C.