A spokeswoman for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) told Food Safety News on Wednesday, Aug. 12, that there are two confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 and that there have also been two hospitalizations so far. Jennifer O’Malley, director of the department’s office of public affairs, said that she could not provide any details about specific cases, adding, “I can confirm that ISDH is working closely with local health departments in Fulton and Wabash counties to investigate reports of illnesses that may be tied to 0157 H7.” ISDH and the local health departments are investigating a total of five cases from several counties, she noted. “Two patients have tested positive for E. coli 0157 H7. There have been two hospitalizations to date,” O’Malley said. The previous FSN story posted Aug. 11 follows: The Fulton County Health Department, the Wabash County Health Department, and the Indiana State Department of Health are investigating cases of E. coli O157 among children who attend a local daycare. Currently, all confirmed cases being investigated with this outbreak are associated with this daycare. A South Bend, IN, TV station reported Tuesday that a woman had told a station employee that she believed the outbreak had caused her daughter’s death. The station also reported that others had indicated that several children had been treated at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Emily Garrett, a public relations person at Riley Hospital, told Food Safety News there was “nothing that we can confirm” and to check in with the state health department. FSN will post more information as it becomes available. E. coli O157 is a contagious diarrheal illness that causes symptoms such as abdominal cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and sometimes bloody stool. Symptoms usually begin three to four days after exposure but can appear from one to eight days after exposure. Symptoms typically last five to 10 days. While most people recover from the infection on their own, about 3-7 percent of people will develop severe complications that require hospitalization. Some people may have no symptoms but can still spread the infection to others. For this reason, careful and frequent hand-washing is important. Ill children who attend school or daycare should be excluded until they are symptom-free and have two negative stool tests to prevent other children from getting sick. Parents and caretakers of ill individuals also are at risk of contracting E. coli O157 and should limit contact with others as much as possible and see a health care provider if symptoms develop. Adults infected with E. coli O157 who work in food service or health care settings should not work while ill. E. coli O157 is normally found in animals, such as cattle, but not found in humans. People become infected by having contact with contaminated food or water or through contact with animals or infected people. Once infected, people shed the bacteria in their stool. Hand-washing is the single best defense against E. coli O157. Hands should be washed after using the restroom, before eating or preparing food, and after contact with animals. Adults should supervise children to make sure they are washing their hands properly for at least 20 seconds while using soap and warm water. Children younger than 5 years should avoid direct contact with farm animals (such as from petting zoos or county fairs). Antibiotic treatment is typically not indicated for these infections and can sometimes make symptoms worse. Diarrhea and vomiting can cause dehydration, so ill individuals should drink plenty of fluids.
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