E. coli outbreak moves east

By on Friday, May 14th, 2021 in Columbia Basin News More Top Stories

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Health said the outbreak of a virulent form of E. coli which began in King County has spread. There are now single cases reported in Walla Walla, Benton, and Snohomish counties. E. coli O157:H7 could be linked to fresh produce, according to health officials who are working with local health jurisdictions to respond. The state said that the case count may be higher. State officials are only reporting on confirmed cases with bacteria that has been linked genetically. Other cases are still under investigation.

One case has been detected in someone between the ages of 0 to 9, two cases are reported for ages 10-19, one case age 20-29, one case age 30-39, and one case age 70-79. Three people have been hospitalized and one person has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication that can damage the kidneys and other organs.

The first case in the outbreak began having symptoms on March 9. The most recent had symptoms beginning April 21.

“This outbreak is a reminder of the importance of food safety from farm to fork, especially fresh produce,” Acting State Health Officer Scott Lindquist said. “We can all help reduce E. coli O157:H7 infections by washing our hands properly, scrubbing produce before eating, cooking foods thoroughly, and choosing pasteurized milk products.”

Symptoms include diarrhea, blood in the stool, and stomach cramps. There is usually no fever. People should contact a health care provider if they are experiencing symptoms.