(Media-Newswire.com) - Boulder
County Public Health ( BCPH ) is currently
investigating a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 in the county. Since September
23rd, BCPH has investigated eight related cases. A cluster of seven cases
includes CU students.
Initial investigations indicate that the source is off campus and on-campus
dining is not related to the source. BCPH staff is working closely with CU
and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment ( CDPHE ) to identify the source of the outbreak and any
additional cases among students and the public.
"Our number one priority is to protect the public's health by
identifying the source of this outbreak. Therefore, we are asking anyone who
has had symptoms of diarrhea, specifically bloody diarrhea, since September
20 to contact their healthcare provider or BCPH," said Nisha Alden, BCPH epidemiologist.
E. coli infection is a diarrheal illness caused by several types of E coli
bacteria. It is spread most easily when people eat or drink food or water
contaminated with human or animal feces or from infected symptomatic
individuals. E. coli is not spread through the air by coughing or sneezing.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include sudden onset of watery diarrhea ( often bloody ), abdominal cramping, and occasionally
vomiting. About one-third of affected people develop fevers. The disease is
generally mild in adults, but can be severe and debilitating in the very
young and the elderly. Infections with E.coli
0157:H7 generally last between 5 and 10 days. Any patient with multiple
episodes of watery and/or bloody diarrhea should be seen by their health care
E.coli 0157:H7 infections are generally not treated
with antibiotics because antibiotics can increase the risk of more severe
symptoms, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome ( HUS )
resulting in acute kidney failure.
"Hand washing is important, especially after using the bathroom,"
said Pamela Talley, CU Wardenburg Health Center
physician. "People with nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or any other stomach
ailment should drink plenty of water or other liquids with electrolytes and
should not prepare food for others."
In order to prevent, E. coli is also important to thoroughly cook meat and
poultry, wash utensils and work surfaces after contact with raw meat, wash
fruit and vegetables thoroughly and avoid unpasteurized juices and milk
If anyone has experienced these symptoms, or would like more information,
they should call their healthcare provider or the BCPH Communicable Disease
Control Program at 303-413-7500 during normal working hours.
To make an appointment with a Wardenburg health
care provider, call 303-492-5432. A fact sheet is available on the Wardenburg
website at www.colorado.edu/healthcenter.
Chana Goussetis, Health
Communications Specialist, 303-441-1457
Bronson Hilliard, Director of Media Relations, 303-735-6183