A growing cluster of E.coli cases has been reported by the Ohio Department of Environmental Health

Ohio’s Wood County is experiencing a spike in E.coli cases.

The Wood County Health Department reported a three-year high of E. coli cases last week.

Health Commissioner Ben Robison told the Wood County Board of Health on Thursday that 16 known cases of E. coli have been identified in the past week. In the past five and a half years, the county has recorded 27 cases of E. coli.

“We are in the early stages of the investigation,” the health commissioner said.

The Ohio Department of Health is trying to determine if there is a connection between the cases in Wood County residents between the ages of 13 and 60.

Robison said the 15 known cases could be just the beginning. “We expect this number to grow,” he said.

The health department is asking anyone in the county who has or believes they have symptoms of E. coli to leave. https://woodcountyhealth.org/health-promotion-and-preparedness/infectious-disease/ And click on the blue “Take this survey” link.

Of the 16 cases reported so far, at least five people between the ages of 21 and 60 have been hospitalized.

Wood County Health is working with other agencies to try and solve the mystery of the origin of E. coli. Those partners include the Ohio Department of Health and other county health departments. It may be escalated to the Ohio Department of Agriculture if contact with food products is identified in the early stages of growing or processing.

When it comes to gastrointestinal issues, Robison explains, people sometimes believe that the last place or food they ate is the culprit. But the first symptoms of E. coli may not appear until 10 days after eating the contaminated food, he said.

A relative became seriously ill after eating at the Wood County Fair and had to be taken to the hospital, a board of health member reported Thursday. But Robison suggests that the fair food establishment may not be the problem.

Robison hopes the lab results from ODH will provide valuable information — for example, if the E. coli are all the same strain.

“We’re moving fast, but we’re doing it on purpose,” he said.

Board member Bob Meaden asked if there were national or regional alerts about contaminated produce or other foods. Robison said the health department will look at the culprit “from all angles.”

“We’re not closing any doors,” Robison said.

E. coli are bacteria found in the environment, food and intestines of humans and animals. E. coli is a large and diverse group of bacteria, according to the CDC.

About E. coli infections

Anyone who has eaten any contaminated products and develops symptoms of E. coli infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctor as food poisoning can occur. Special tests are needed to identify infections that may mimic other diseases.

Symptoms of E. coli infection vary from person to person, but usually include severe abdominal cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others may develop more severely or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

About 5 to 10 percent of those 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 sores or bleeding, and skin rashes.

Most people with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or death. This disease can occur in people of any age, but is most common in children under the age of five because their immune systems are immature, older adults have weakened immune systems, and people with weakened immune systems such as cancer patients.

People who experience symptoms of HUS should seek emergency medical care immediately. People with HUS are more likely to be hospitalized because the condition can cause other serious and ongoing complications, such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurological problems.

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