11 cases of E. coli confirmed, including 1 in Harrison
After 10 cases of E. coli were confirmed recently at Galena Elementary School, no new cases have been reported. However, another six suspected cases are being monitored, some of which may be linked to the school. Some students who were being treated for E. coli symptoms have been released from area hospitals.
And one case of E. coli was confirmed last week in northern Harrison County.
‘Actually, this case, in the northern part of the county, hasn’t been verified officially,’ said Tony Combs of the Harrison County Health Dept. ‘And it’s an isolated case and not real serious. The person is already well again. Luckily, this case wasn’t as serious as the Floyd County cases.’
Combs indicated that there was no connection between the Harrison County case and the Floyd County cases. He was reluctant to confirm if the infected person was an adult or a child.
Students at the Floyd County school began coming down with diarrhea and other E. coli symptoms on Sept. 17, but there wasn’t any confirmation of the illness until Sept. 21, when health department test results came back positive. According to health department officials, the additional cases likely received the infection from the first group of infected students. One of the additional cases is an adult, but officials wouldn’t comment if the adult was a teacher or parent.
E. coli is short for Escherichia coli, a bacteria, or germ, that causes severe cramps and diarrhea. The symptoms are usually worse in children and older people. Most E. coli infections come from eating undercooked ground beef (the inside is pink), drinking contaminated water, drinking unpasteurized (raw) milk or working with cattle.
Healthy beef and dairy cattle may carry the E. coli germ in their intestines. The meat can get contaminated with the germ during the slaughtering process. When beef is ground up, the E. coli germs get mixed throughout the meat. The most common way to get the infection is by eating contaminated food, usually food that hasn’t been well-cooked. When a person eats undercooked beef, the germs go into their stomach and intestines.
E. coli can also be passed from person to person. If a person has the infection and doesn’t wash their hands well with soap after going to the bathroom, they can give the germ to other people by touching things, especially food. Symptoms usually start about seven days after infection. The first sign is severe abdominal cramps that start suddenly. After a few hours, watery diarrhea starts. The diarrhea causes a person’s body to lose fluids and electrolytes (dehydration), which, in turn, causes a person to feel sick and tired. The watery diarrhea lasts for about a day, then changes to bright red, bloody stools. The infection causes sores in the intestines, which causes the stools to become bloody. The bloody diarrhea last for two to five days. A person could also experience a mild fever and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
Anyone who has the symptoms of E. coli should contact their doctor. However, there is no special treatment except drinking a lot of water and watching for complications. Don’t take medicine to stop diarrhea unless instructed by a doctor to do so, as the medicine would keep the intestines from getting rid of the E. coli germ.
Topps Meat Co. of New Jersey has recently recalled thousands of pounds of frozen meat paddies that were distributed across several states, including Indiana and Kentucky, but Floyd County health officials have not linked the outbreak at Galena Elementary to the Topps recall.
Meanwhile, classes are continuing at Galena Elementary, and Floyd County officials have no plans to close the school. The school and its buses were thoroughly cleaned after the first case of E. coli was confirmed.