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4 Californians sickened by E. coli outbreak linked to raw milk cheese

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an urgent warning on Friday calling for everyone to throw away certain cheddar cheese after an E. coli outbreak sickened 10 people, four of whom lived in California. 

The food safety alert applies to all blocks and shredded packages of raw cheddar cheese from the company Raw Farm sold in the country. The flavors include original and jalapeno. 

The CDC said Raw Farm LLC will issue a recall and has partnered with the FDA. 

Cases began in mid October and continued to sporadically pop up every month until late January. California has the most cases, but scientists have discovered two in Utah, three in Colorado, and one in Texas. Of the nine patients with information available, four have been hospitalized and one has developed a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. Officials believe there are likely more cases and the outbreak may have spread to other states. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released this photo with the alert. CDC

Investigators connected the outbreak to the Raw Farm brand raw cheddar cheese after interviewing eight of the patients. Six of them, 75%, said they were eating the product before getting sick. 

The CDC said this percentage outpaces the FoodNet Population survey average of 4.9%, which it uses to determine how often people eating certain foods get sick. 

E. coli symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees 
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving 
  • Bloody diarrhea 
  • Vomiting so much you cannot keep liquids down
  • Dehydration symptoms like not peeing much, dry mouth and throat and feeling dizzy when standing up 
  • Feeling very tired 
  • Losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids. 

Symptoms typically start three or four days after eating the contaminated food. Most people recover without without treatment after five to seven days 

Officials advised all residents to throw away any Raw Farm brand raw cheddar cheese. Businesses should not sell or serve the product. They advised businesses and individuals wash anything that may have touched the contaminated cheese. 

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