2007_12_health_topps.jpgFar from just being unhealthy for you, eating a hamburger these days just might kill you. The Health Department is asking New Yorkers to toss any ground beef burgers manufactured by the Topps company because of possible contamination with a particularly dangerous strain of E.coli. A bacteria normally found populating the guts of cows and the humans that love them, the 0157:H7 variety of E. coli is associated with more than just the nuisance of vomiting and fever and can actually lead to severe diarrhea, kidney damage, and death.

The City Health Department is currently working up the case of an entire Staten Island family who may have been infected after eating the tainted meat - their 12-year-old daughter having spent a few days in the ICU before being released yesterday. At least 25 people nationwide have fallen ill from the Topps product, seven of them being New Yorkers. If you've eaten Topps brand burgers recently and are experiencing diarrhea, abdominal pain, or bloody stools other unmentionable symptoms, get to a doctor. In the meanwhile, you can prevent E.coli by being sure to cook meat fully (at at least 160 degrees for ground beef), keeping raw meat away from other foods, and washing hands thoroughly.

You can read the complete FDA statement or apply for a refund here. Here's the Health Department's fact sheet about E.coli. And if you haven't lost your appetite we'd love to hear about your favorite burger joints in town!