A growing group of cases of E. coli is reported by the local Ohio health department
Wood County, Ohio is seeing an increase in cases of E. coli.
The Wood County Health Department reports that three years of cases of E. coli have occurred over the past week.
Health Commissioner Ben Robison told the Wood County Board of Health on Thursday that 16 known cases of E. coli had been identified last week. Over the past five and a half years, the county has had 27 cases of E. coli.
The health commissioner said: ‘We are at the very start of an investigation.
The Ohio Department of Health is testing to see if there is a link between the cases, which have affected Wood County residents between the ages of 13 and 60. Test results are due Tuesday.
The 15 known cases are likely just the start, according to Robison. “That number, we expect it to grow,” he said.
The Health Department is asking anyone in the county who thinks they may be or have recently experienced possible symptoms of E coli to go to https://woodcountyhealth.org/health-promotion-and-preparedness/infectious-disease/ and click on the “take this survey” link in blue.
Of the 16 cases reported so far, at least five people have been hospitalized, aged between 21 and 60.
Wood County Health is teaming up with other agencies to try to solve the riddle of the origin of E. coli. These partners include the Ohio Department of Health and other county health departments. It could be extended to the Ohio Department of Agriculture if a link is identified with food products in the early stages of cultivation or processing.
Robison explained that people sometimes believe that the last place or food they ate is the culprit when it comes to gastrointestinal issues. But the first symptoms of E. coli may not appear for 10 days after eating the contaminated food, he said.
A health board member reported on Thursday that a loved one had become very ill and had to be taken to hospital after eating at the Wood County Fair. But Robison noted that the fair food establishment may not be the issue.
Robison hopes the ODH lab results will provide vital information, such as whether the E. coli are all the same strain.
“We are moving quickly but intentionally,” he said.
Bob Midden, Board Member, asked if there had been any national or regional alerts for contaminated products or other foods. Robison said the health department will be looking “in all directions” for the culprit.
“We’re not closing any doors,” Robison said.
E. coli are bacteria found in the environment, food, and the intestines of people and animals. E. coli is a large and diverse group of bacteria, according to the CDC.
About E. coli Infections
Anyone who has consumed any of the implicated products and develops symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and inform their physician of possible food poisoning. Specific tests are needed to diagnose infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
Symptoms of E. coli infections vary from person to person, but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover in five to seven days. Others may develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5-10% of people diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a life-threatening complication of kidney failure known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruising or bleeding, and paleness.
Many people with HUS recover within weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or die. This condition can occur in people of any age, but is more common in children under the age of five due to their immature immune system, older people due to deteriorating immune system, and people whose immune system is weakened, like cancer patients.
People with symptoms of HUS should seek emergency medical attention immediately. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the disease can cause other serious and persistent problems such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurological problems.
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