E. coli cases up to six

 

Source of Article:  http://www.thehawkeye.com/Story/e-coli-folo6-102908

 

Apple cider believed to be source of bacteria.

By DARCIE HOENIG

The number of confirmed E. coli cases in the area has grown to six, and it appears that unpasteurized apple cider is the culprit.

The Lee and Des Moines county health departments each confirmed another case of the infection late last week. There are currently three confirmed cases in Lee County, two in Des Moines County and one in Hancock County, Ill.

Lee County Health Department Administrator Julie Schilling said her department is not looking into any other possible cases at this time. The department is still examining the three confirmed cases, she said.

"We are continuing to work with the Iowa Department of Public Health in our ongoing investigation of the cases," Schilling said.

No businesses or facilities have been asked to shut down in connection to the cases, officials said.

Patricia Quinlisk, medical director for the Iowa Department of Public Health, has said the source of a communicable disease will not be released unless it poses an immediate health risk to the public. The department has "made recommendations in the last several weeks" to prevent further cases of the disease, she said.

While state health officials have not disclosed the source of E. coli 0157:H7 in the area, those closest to the cases believe they contracted it from the same place.

The parents of two children who have been battling the bacteria, 5-year-old Kaden Althide of Basco, Ill., and 7-year-old TiAhnna Bryant of Donnellson, said they believe their children encountered the disease from the same source during the weekend of Oct. 4.

Pediatric nephrologist Patrick Brophy, the doctor for both children at the University of Iowa Children's Hospital, concurred with the parents.

"In Kaden's case, as well as a couple other kids, they were all at a similar venue, and it looks like they probably had apple cider that contained the E. coli," Brophy said.

For more than two weeks, both children have endured almost daily dialysis and surgeries, blood transfusions and ultrasounds, among other things.

On Tuesday, Kim Althide, Kaden's mother, said they have seen some improvements in her son's kidney output, but dialysis treatments are continuing nearly every day.

"We're making baby steps," Althide said.

The Iowa Department of Public Health issued a press release Tuesday encouraging Iowans to avoid consuming unpasteurized juices and ciders because they can be linked with outbreaks of disease.

Federal law requires a warning label on raw apple cider that has not been heat processed, since it can pose a health risk, especially to children who have weakened immune systems. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria and extends the product's shelf life.

Pasteurized products include those packaged in cans, bottles and boxes that are found unrefrigerated in the grocery store. Unpasteurized products may be purchased as freshly pressed from local orchards, roadside stands or farmers markets. They also may be found on ice or in refrigerated display cases and in produce sections at grocery stores.

"The risk of contracting illness from fresh cider is low," Quinlisk said. "But children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system should take special precautions to protect themselves against any food that could be contaminated."

Raw apple cider should not be served to these individuals, including children younger than 8.

The following guidelines should be followed to ensure safe apple cider products:

* Apple cider should be made from whole, fresh apples that have not been dropped or found on the ground;

* Cider presses and all equipment used to make cider should be washed with a noncorrosive cleanser and thoroughly dried;

* All cider storage containers should be sanitized with a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine bleach per one gallon of clean water; and

* Cider should be kept refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or cooler.

Cider contaminated with bacteria does not look, smell or taste different from normal apple cider.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, concerned consumers can reduce their risk of illness by heating their unpasteurized apple cider to at least 170 degrees Fahrenheit before drinking. If at any time you question whether a cider has been treated to destroy harmful bacteria, avoid drinking it.

For more information about food-borne illnesses, visit www.idph.state.ia.us/adper/illness.asp

 

 

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