Counties report pair of possible E. coli cases

By NICHOLAS BERGIN

 

Source of Article:  http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/ecoli-101608

Officials are investigating two possible cases of E. coli infection in the area, one in Lee County and the other in Hancock County, Ill., according to the Lee County Health Department.  It is unknown whether the cases are connected.

"We have a preliminary lab test that came back as possible, and further lab testing is being done to confirm the results at the University (of Iowa) hygienic lab," said Lee County Administrator Julie Schilling.

The health department received the preliminary test results Monday. So the person was having symptoms prior to that day, she added.

Schilling said the health department is informing residents of the situation to encourage them to take precautions against infection.

"We're doing a routine monitoring and investigation with the case we have in Lee County. At this time we're not able to identify the source of the contamination nor have asked any business to close," Schilling said.

She declined to provide any further information about the cases.

Hancock County (Ill.) Health Department infectious diseases coordinator Victoria Roberts said officials are investigating the possibility of an infection, but could not discuss the issue further.

"I'm not allowed to give out any information until I have a confirmed lab report in my hand through the (Illinois) Department of Public Health," she said.

A common bacteria living in the intestines of animals and people, E. coli is spread by swallowing the germ.

Common food sources of contaminants include raw, unpasteurized milk and other dairy products; unpasteurized juices, such as apple cider; and uncooked meat.

The bacteria also can be spread from person-to-person in families and in child-care centers, where toddler's roaming hands spread germs freely.

The bacteria's incubation period -- the time between exposure and the start of symptoms -- is usually three to four days. However, symptoms can manifest as early as two days or take as long as eight days, Schilling said.

The most common symptoms of an infection are severe cramps, chills, diarrhea and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms often begin mild and increase in severity. Fevers are uncommon, but a mild one is possible.

A potentially life-threatening infection, E. coli can cause kidney failure, especially in young children, as well as cause the malfunction of a person's blood clotting system.

Health officials recommend people practice proper hygiene and wash their hands, especially before eating, as well as before and after handling food. Handwashing should include plenty of soap and plenty of friction from fingernails to wrists.

Also, people should avoid eating raw or undercooked ground meat.

The Lee County Health Department also recommends:

* Always refrigerate raw meat and don't store meat at room temperature.

* Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers. Also wash the diapered child's hands.

* When caring for someone with diarrhea, wash your hands after cleaning the bathroom, helping the person to the toilet or touching any soiled clothes or bedding.

* Always wash cutting boards and utensils between fixing raw meat or poultry and fixing other foods such as fruits and vegetables.

* Drink only pasteurized milk, juice or cider.

 

 

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