July 17, 2024

E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak in Oregon Closes Montessori School

The Clackamas County Health Department has released a statement on the E. coli outbreak in Clackamas County, Oregon and a Montessori school has temporarily closed. The school, Heart Centered Montessori, has told parents that all students and staff should be tested for the bacterium to try to discover the source of the illnesses, according to Oregon Live.

E coli bacteriaThree children have been sickened in this outbreak. There is no news on their condition, but at least one of the patients has recovered. The school’s owner is voluntarily closing the school while public health officials investigate the outbreak. There is also no word on whether the E. coli bacteria that has caused these illnesses is the same strain.

E. coli O157:H7 infections can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure an death. There is no word on whether or not the children who are ill have developed HUS. HUS infections are more common in children than adults.

The Clackamas County statement on this outbreak is: “Clackamas County Public Health is actively investigating incidents of diarrheal illness that have occurred at the Heart Centered Montessori School in West Linn. Testing has shown that two of the infections were caused by E. coli O157:H7, otherwise known as Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli or “STEC”. The third case has STEC infection but more testing is needed to know the precise typing.

“These cases occurred in September and October. One of the children has recovered. Two children were admitted to the hospital.”

“Public Health officials have conducted extensive testing in and outside of the school but a source of the infection has not been determined. Consequently Public Health made a decision to test all children and staff at the school to look for undiagnosed infections without symptoms that may be playing a role in transmission. This decision is consistent with the extensive effort to find a source for the infection.”

E. coli O157:H7 is found in the intestinal tracts of ruminant animals. Common causes for E. coli infections include raw or unpasteurized milk, dairy products, and cider, undercooked ground meats, soft cheeses, raw sprouts and contaminated vegetables and fruits, and handling animals and animal feed. The symptoms of an E. coli infection include nausea, vomiting, stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery. Treatment by a doctor is essential, since complications of this infection can be life-threatening.

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