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E. Coli Victims in Galena Elementary Outbreak Now at 10

Still No World on Source of E. Coli Bacteria

Oct 3, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP Two more cases of E. coli poisoning have been confirmed in Floyds Knobs, Indiana, brining the total number of victims sickened in that outbreak to 10.  As was the case with the first eight, the two latest victims are also linked to the same elementary school where the E. coli outbreak originated. Officials in that state are also investigating another 6 cases of possible E. coli poisoning that could be linked to the school.

According to officials from the Indiana Department of Health, seven of those suffering from E. coli poisoning are students at Galena Elementary School in Floyds Knobs.   The three other victims, one adult and two children, have ties to Galena Elementary.   Investigators believe that those three victims’ E. coli infections are from secondary transmission.  While E. coli is not contagious per say, it can be transmitted from person-to-person if, for example, an infected person does not wash his or her hands.

A spokesperson for Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky said the hospital was still treating 7 E. coli victims, down from 9 on Monday;   But the hospital would release no further information on those people or their conditions.

Investigators are still no closer to finding the source of the E. coli outbreak, which was confirmed on September 21.   They have been able to rule out several possible sources, including a field trip Galena students took to a petting zoo, and E. coli-contaminated meat recalled last week by the Topps Meat Company.  Though petting zoos are a common source of E. coli transmission, the Galena field trip occurred too long ago to be responsible for this outbreak, investigators said.   And Galena Elementary does not purchase any meat from the Topps Meat Company.   Investigators from the Indiana Department of Health have already surveyed victims and their families about their activities leading up to the outbreak, and those results are being processed by a computer program designed to find commonalities possibly linked to the E. coli outbreak.

Galena Elementary reported that attendance is getting back to normal, after being off considerably last week.  Only 24 students were absent yesterday, down from a high of 80 last week.  Concerned parents had lobbied for the closure of Galena Elementary until the E. coli outbreak had run its course.   But health officials deemed that unnecessary after an inspection of the school found it to be E. coli free.  School officials are asking that students who have suffered with E. coli be symptom free for at least 24 hours and receive clearance from their physicians before returning to school.

E. coli are a common form of bacteria, but some strains can produce a toxin that causes bloody diarrhea, fatigue, sever cramping and dehydration..   Victims usually become ill within 3-4 days of exposure, and the illness lasts about 5-10 days and resolves on its own.  However the disease can be much more dangerous for children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. Rarely, a serious condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome can develop from an E. coli infection. It involves the kidneys and results in the patient needing dialysis and advanced medical treatment.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 73,000 reported cases of E. coli poisoning every year, and 61 of these result in fatalities.  This year, there have been dozens of reports of E. coli outbreaks linked to tainted meats and fresh produce.

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