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Ohio, 11 other states linked to E. coli outbreak possibly tied to cake mix

So far, 16 people have been confirmed infected with a strain of E. coli known as O121. But the CDC hasn't yet found the source.
Credit: MGN

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina is one of 12 states where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking as it tries to get to the bottom of an E. coli outbreak potentially linked to cake mix.

So far, 16 people have been confirmed infected with a strain of E. coli known as O121 in South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Utah, Washington, Oregon, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. 

And of the eight interviewed, six reported eating or tasting raw batter made with cake mix. However, because they all reported buying different varieties and brands, authorities haven't yet tracked the outbreak back to a specific source. That also means no recall has been sent out yet.

Sick people range in age from two to 73 years old, according to the CDC. The median age is 13 and all of them were female - most of them children - so far. 

Even so, the CDC believes the true number of people sick is much higher than reported since not all people who get sick seek treatment. And it sometimes takes up to a month to determine if a sick person who does get medical care is part of an outbreak.

Symptoms can include possibly bloody diarrhea that can last for more than three days and a fever over 102 degrees Fahrenheit, frequent vomiting, and various signs of dehydration such as not peeing often, a dry mouth or throat, and feeling dizzy.

Currently, no deaths have been reported but seven people have been confirmed hospitalized and one has developed a type of kidney failure.

And these cases stretch back for months - from late February to late July.

As the investigation continues to find out where the cases originated, the CDC is urging the public to avoid eating raw cake batter since E. coli can only be killed when the batter is baked or cooked.

That means not tasting the mix, keeping the ingredient out of the hands of children, and keeping it refrigerated until use. Also be sure to thoroughly clean up after handling cake mix, flour or eggs and make sure that kitchenware and bowls are clean as well before reusing.