More Suspected Cases Of E. coli Identified
People seeking care and treatment after holiday weekend responsible for increased number of cases
Albany, September 8 – A total of 291 cases of E. coli infection associated with the Capital District outbreak now are suspected or confirmed, the New York State Department of Health said today. Officials believe that the majority of new cases are among adults who had milder symptoms after attending the Washington County Fair but only now are seeking medical attention.
"As I predicted yesterday, the number of suspected cases are increasing after the long holiday weekend, once people who attended the Fair had an opportunity to see their doctor and have their symptoms evaluated," State Health Commissioner Antonia C. Novello, M.D. said. "We would not be surprised to see additional case reports from schools and day care centers, as well, in the days ahead."
Forty–nine cases of E. coli have been confirmed thus far through laboratory tests and 49 individuals are hospitalized for treatment of the bacterial illness. Despite the increase in suspected cases, the number of people who are sick enough to require hospital treatment has remained relatively stable. Eight children now have developed complications of E–coli namely Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Five of them are currently receiving dialysis treatment.
The vast majority of the E. coli cases reported up to now have resulted from primary infection, officials said, meaning the affected individuals attended the Washington County Fair. Only 10 of the affected individuals, however, are believed to have contacted E. coli infections as a result of being in contact with people with the primary illness.
Although it is likely that more primary cases will be identified, as enhanced public awareness prompts people who have experienced illness to get medical attention, new cases of primary infection stemming from attendance at the Washington County Fair are unlikely since the incubation period for the disease is from one to nine days, and the fair ended 10 days ago.
To prevent new cases of E. coli infection, health officials are warning anyone who has diarrhea to refrain from activities that can spread secondary infection, such as food handling or caring for children or sick individuals. Those who are employed in food service, day care or patient care should not go to work if they have diarrheal illness, and should contact their health care provider. E. coli infection is spread either through direct ingestion of contaminated food or water, or through secondary, person–to–person transmission by people who do not wash their hands after using the toilet.
Symptoms of E. coli infection are diarrhea, especially bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and fever associated with the symptoms. People who have these symptoms should contact their health care provider without delay.