The Journal Gazette reports that in 2003 and 2004, there were only two cases of E.coli infections in Allen County. This year, nine people have been sickened with the bacteria due to an outbreak at a small child-care center.
Health officials would not release the name of the center, nor the name nor age of those sickened with the bacteria or the severity of the cases, including whether anyone was hospitalized.
The child-care center was not shut down, but those who tested positive for the bacteria were removed from the day care and will not be allowed to return until they test negative twice, according to Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health spokeswoman Mindy Waldron. She said that the source of the outbreak has not been determined, but it appears to be from person-to-person contact and not from contaminated food.
The main symptom is diarrhea and there is often little or no fever associated with infection. The most severe cases can lead to kidney failure or death, with children under 5 and the elderly being most at risk.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, E.coli infections generally occur from eating undercooked beef, drinking unpasteurized milk and fruit juices, eating unwashed raw fruits and vegetables or swimming in or drinking water contaminated with animal or human waste. An infected person can pass the bacteria in his stool for up to two weeks after symptoms have stopped, and it can be transmitted to others if those infected do not wash their hands well after using the toilet.