Health officials are urging South Dakotans to practice food safety precautions and good hygiene to protect themselves from the threat of E. coli, according to the Marshall County Journal.

60 percent of South Dakota cases in 2006 have been children younger than 20 years old, and 25 percent of cases are children three years old and younger. Three of the E. coli cases have resulted in hemolytic uremic syndrome, all in children 13 years and younger. There have been no deaths.

Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the Department of Health, offered the following suggestions to prevent the spread of E. coli and other food-home illnesses:

  • Avoid eating raw, rare, or undercooked ground beef or hamburger. The bacteria in meat are killed by heat when thoroughly cooked. Cook ground beef or hamburger until the pink is gone, the juices run clear, and it is hot on the inside (at least 160 degrees F).
  • Clean all food preparation surfaces that will come in contact with food.
  • Wash hands, utensils, plates, platters, and countertops after contact with raw meat or poultry and before contact with the same food when cooked.
  • Avoid drinking from untreated water supplies. Chlorine or other effective disinfectants will kill the bacteria.
  • Drink only pasteurized milk and fruit juices.
  • Wash hands after working with cattle or manure.
  • Careful hand-washing with soap will reduce the risk of spreading the bacteria by food handlers, in daycare settings, and by health care workers.