Updated October 31. 2008 1:53PM

E. coli cases investigated in Eastern Iowa

By Cindy Hadish

The Gazette


Source of Article:http://www.gazetteonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081031/NEWS/710319925/1006/news


Iowa health officials have been unable to pinpoint the cause of a cluster of E.coli infections in Eastern Iowa.

The five people considered part of the cluster all drank unpasteurized apple cider, but some also ate unwashed apples and ground beef that may not have been fully cooked, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Potential sources of E.coli contamination include drinking raw, unpasteurized juice or milk; contact with farm animals at farms or a petting zoo; eating undercooked ground meat or foods contaminated by raw meat juices; and eating raw, unwashed produce.

E.coli can also be transmitted from an ill person to a healthy person, which is why health experts emphasize hand washing.

Since late September, 29 cases of E.coli have been reported to the state health department, compared to an average of 18 cases during that same time over the last five years.

Of those, 22 were children aged 12 and younger. Several children were admitted to the hospital and a few experienced significant kidney damage.

Health department spokeswoman Polly Carver-Kimm did not know if the hospitalized children were from Eastern Iowa.

The main symptom of E.coli infection is diarrhea, which may be bloody. Stomach cramps and chills can also occur. Fever is rare.

Health officials advise anyone with symptoms of E.coli to consult a doctor immediately.

About 8 percent of patients, especially young children, develop kidney complications. The infection can also cause a personís blood clotting systems to malfunction.

To prevent E.coli infections, experts recommend:

l Make sure fresh juice or milk has been pasteurized. Even small samples can make a person sick.

l People with diarrhea should not prepare food for others.

l Wash hands with soap and water after using the restroom. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol based hand gel.

l When caring for someone with diarrhea, wash your hands after giving any care and make sure that the ill personís hands are frequently washed.

l Cook hamburger and other ground meats thoroughly ó to a temperature of 155 degrees for at least 15-16 seconds, or until juices run clear and no pink is visible.

l Wash fresh vegetables or fruits thoroughly before eating.



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