The Virginia Health Department's investigation director, Diane Woolard, says each year the state has about 150 E. coli cases, and each is taken seriously. She says when a cases are reported, people are asked what they ate, where they traveled, and what they risk factors are.
"However you can get exposed to microscopic feces, either by not washing your hands enough, or something contaminating irrigation water, on a food where something is being grown, it's often associated with undercooked ground beef," says Woolard.
Woolard says prevention requires making sure food is fully cooked, avoiding raw meat cross-contamination, and thoroughly washing vegetables and hands.
Symptoms of infection include watery, bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, and kidney problems. People who show any signs—especially young children and the elderly—should seek medical help immediately.