An E.coli outbreak in Texas has sickened at least five people including two young boys who have both been hospitalized, according to health officials from the Brazos County Health Department. The boys, brothers who are both under the age of five, are being treated at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston.
In a news conference this morning, Dr. Eric Wilke from the Brazos County Health Department said five cases have been confirmed through laboratory testing and three others are pending. The five case patients were all sickened by the same strain of E. coli O157:H7. None of the other patients was hospitalized.
Young children are among those most at risk with E.coli infections. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of E. coli poisoning that leads to kidney failure, most often affects children under 10.
A food source has not yet been identified. Initially, health authorities thought the illnesses may have been associated with a restaurant, but they are now thinking the contamination of the food happened in the supply chain, Wilke said. He does expect more cases to be added to the outbreak.
When asked what consumers could do to reduce their risk of illness, Wilke said to thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables and to make sure that food is cooked to a proper temperature. The only way to do that is with a food thermometer.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection can take several days to appear. E. coli poisoning causes abdominal cramping and diarrhea that is sometimes bloody. A low-grade fever can also accompany these symptoms. Anyone who is experiencing these symptoms or who has a child with these symptoms should see a doctor, Wilke said.