March 21, 2018

Hawaii Reports E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

The Hawaii Department of Health has sent a letter to Oahu hospitals about an E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least six people since February. Six “molecularly matched” E. coli O157:H7 infections have been reported, with illness onset dates from February 19 to March 2, 2013. There is no mention of this outbreak in the Hawaii Department of Health news releases.

The memo reads, “The Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) is investigating a cluster of six confirmed, molecularly matched E. coli O157:H7 infections. Five of the six cases are children, while the sixth is elderly; all are Oahu residents with no travel history. Three of the six cases have been hospitalized with two developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Five cases have recovered or are recovering; one remains hospitalized. Investigation is ongoing, now with a likely seventh case (onset in the past week and subsequent HUS and hospitalization.” The memo is dated March 1, 2013.

The memo continues, “This particular molecular pattern of E. coli O157:H7 is very uncommon both nationally as well as in Hawaii. We ask all medical providers to consider E. coli O157 when evaluating patients with severe or bloody diarrhea and order a stool culture to specifically isolate E. coli O157. HDOH also requests you report cases of bloody diarrhea with onset within the past month and going forward.”

Transmission of E. coli O157:H7 is fecal-oral and is usually caused by eating contaminated food or water. Contact with animals is another possible source of the outbreak. E. coli O157:H7 is a reportable illness and the HDOH should be informed immediately when a positive diagnosis is made. The HDOH states that no source has been identified yet for this particular cluster of illnesses.

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