E. coli cases up to 20, more links reported

The investigation into an E. coli outbreak in Wood County continues to show the cases may be related.

In a Wednesday update, the Wood County Health Department said samples have been provided to the Ohio Department of Health for investigation.

Eight of those have come back and all have been the same serotype, according to the health department.

“That tells us that there may be a link between cases. Approximately 30% of STEC cases are this serotype, so it’s not definitive but does help us identify next steps to pursue in the investigation,” according to the health department update.

There have been 20 reported cases since July 31, and seven hospitalizations. The age range is 13-68.

The health department is investigating several recent cases of Shiga Toxin E. coli (STEC). Cases are being interviewed by WCHD staff.

Samples have been provided to Ohio Department of Health for testing. So far, we have received eight of those back and all have been the same serotype. That tells us that there may be a link between cases. Approximately 30% of STEC cases are this serotype, so it’s not definitive but does help us identify next steps to pursue in the investigation.

The health department is working with state and federal partners to explore possible links and understand next steps. A food has not yet been identified as a source of this outbreak and this investigation is ongoing.

The CDC is currently investigating reports of E. coli cases in Michigan and Ohio. Wood County’s cases with matching serotypes completed are included in numbers reported by the CDC. Information on the CDC investigation is linked here: https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/2022/o157h7-08-22/details.html.

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe E. coli symptoms:

Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F

Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving

Bloody diarrhea

So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down

Signs of dehydration, such as:

Not peeing much

Dry mouth and throat

Feeling dizzy when standing up

Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from one to 10 days after exposure. Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.

If you believe you are or have experienced the severe E. coli symptoms listed above from July 20 to the present, think about where you may have traveled, what you may have eaten and where in the 10 days prior to the start of your symptoms.

Then go to: https://woodcountyhealth.org/health-promotion-and-preparedness/infectious-disease/ and click on the “take this survey” link in blue.

E. coli are a diverse group of bacteria that normally live in the intestines of humans and animals. Although most strains of these bacteria are harmless, some produce toxins that can make you sick and cause diarrhea. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) is one of the strains that can make people sick.

Preventing the spread of E. coli

Hand washing with soap and water is the best prevention.

Anyone with active diarrhea should not prepare food until the diarrhea has ceased for at least 24 hours.

If you have small children, avoid touching items that children are likely to put into their mouths, like pacifiers or teethers.

If you have STEC infection and work in food, healthcare or child care:

You should remain off work until 48 hours after the diarrhea has ceased and 2 consecutive stool samples have been collected.

Additionally, anyone with diarrhea should avoid swimming, water-related activities and sexual contact with other people while experiencing symptoms.

Food safety: Follow these four steps to prevent E. coli.

Clean: Wash your hands, utensils, and surfaces often. Rinse fruits and vegetables under running water before eating, cutting, or peeling.

Separate: Keep food that won’t be cooked separate from raw meat, poultry, and seafood.

Cook: Use a food thermometer to make sure you have cooked your food to a temperature high enough to kill germs.

Chill: Refrigerate perishable food (food that goes bad) within 2 hours. If the outside temperature is hotter than 90°F, refrigerate within 1 hour. Thaw food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/ecoli/.