To protect against this type of food poison, travelers should not use untreated water and ice, salads, raw fruits and vegetables that cannot be peeled, and uncooked milk products. Diners should always make sure hamburgers are well done.

Parents can prevent infection by thoroughly cooking ground beef, avoiding unpasteurized milk, and washing hands carefully. Undercooked beef should not be served to young children or anyone with an impaired immune system.

When caring for an infected patient, hand washing is crucial to avoid person-to-person spread of the disease.

About 38 states now ask doctors to report outbreaks of the disease but none regularly test for other strains of E. coli that produce the toxin.

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