Lee County health officials are warning the public to take necessary precautions after two cases of E. Coli were discovered on the same day. The two cases were found in unrelated individuals – a small child and an adult, both of whom are recovering – whose paths have apparently not crossed in the past 10 days. That has stumped health officials trying to determine the cause of the bacterial disease.
Roy Warren, a county environmental health official, said investigators don’t know if the cases are related. Although this is the first known E. Coli outbreak ever in Sanford or Lee County, Warren said investigators haven’t found any commonalities in the places the two victims ate or even bought groceries.
At any rate, one case is rare; two unrelated cases would be almost unbelievable.
“What blows my mind, if (the cases) aren’t related, is how in the world did you come up with two cases on the same day,” he said, adding that it was “very possible” the cases are independent of one another.
In the meantime, Warren urged area residents to be aware of the bacteria’s presence.
“It’s nothing to be scared of,” he said. “It’s something to be aware of. When you’re aware of something, it’s not really the threat it would be normally.”
Warren urged people to wash their hands after using the bathroom, and if they show any symptoms to see a doctor immediately. The infection, which can be fatal, is easily treatable if detected early.
Warren also noted that symptoms can vary from person to person.
“They can be mild in some people and severe in others,” he said.
The incubation period for the bacteria is between one and 10 days, meaning it can take more than a week for symptoms to show up. Foods associated with the infection include hamburgers, raw milk, roast beef, sausages, raw fruits and vegetables, and yogurt.
The infection can also be caused by the absence of purifiers in large supplies of water, such as wells or swimming pools.