Public health officials are slowly identifying more students with E. coli infections in an outbreak associated with Huntley High School in Illinois.
The outbreak was identified on Sept. 17 and now includes nine confirmed patients and several suspected patients. The McHenry County Department of Health has not reported whether any of the students are hospitalized.
Investigators are working to discover the source of the pathogen, but have not yet identified a specific food.
The county health department has reported that no other cases of infection are known of outside of the student population of Huntley High School. Public health officials are interviewing ill students to try to determine if there is a common food they ate before becoming sick.
The school remains open, but school district officials are cooperating fully with public health to investigate the outbreak.
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About E. coli infections
Anyone who has a student at Huntley High School who developed symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor about their possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific tests are required to diagnose the infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others can develop severe or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
About 5 to 10 percent of those diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a potentially life-threatening kidney failure complication, known as a hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruises or bleeding, and pallor.
Many people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent injuries or death. This condition can occur among people of any age but is most common in children younger than five years old because of their immature immune systems, older adults because of deteriorating immune systems, and people with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients.
People who experience HUS symptoms should immediately seek emergency medical care. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing problems such as hypertension, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurologic problems.
Hygiene standards are necessary to ensure that the people who consume their products don’t become ill as a result of contaminated food. The Rosmar Group and our specialized consulting solutions are designed to help our clients avoid costly mistakes caused by microbiological contamination or any other sanitation related event.
News Desk. (2023a, septiembre 27). More sick students confirmed in E. coli outbreak at Illinois high school. Food Safety News. https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2023/09/more-sick-students-confirmed-in-e-coli-outbreak-at-illinois-high-school/