The Fulton County Health Department, Wabash County Health Department and Indiana State Department of Health announced that they 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.
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 resolve infection on their own, about 3 percent to 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 attend 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 under 5 years of age should avoid direct contact with farm animals (such as from petting zoos or county fairs).