December 2, 2016

Three CA Children Sickened with E. coli After Fairfax Creek Visit

According to the Marin Independent Journal, two children, and possibly three, have been sickened with E. coli infections that may be associated with a creek in the Fairfax area. The children are very young, all about two or three years old. They were playing in the creek in Peri Park in downtown Fairfax.

Creek Forest

But Marin County officials have not confirmed that water contamination is the source of their illnesses. Water samples were taken from the creek and will be tested. One of the children became ill on May 8, the second on May 15, and the third on May 21, 2016.

It is possible that the infections came from another place. One of the children ate raw cream before getting sick, and another recently ate at a local restaurant. The sanitary district has not reported any sewage spills in the Fairfax Creek watershed.

Many Marin county beaches are regularly tested for E. coli and coliform bacteria, which indicate the presence of feces. Warning signs are posted if the levels are higher than state standards permit. The water at Fairfax Creek is not tested because it isn’t a beach and people don’t use it for recreation.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, mild fever, and diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery. Children under the age of five are most likely to have a severe illness, and most likely to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection. Some postings on social media have indicated that one of the children has been hospitalized with possible kidney failure, but there is no official word on this.

Officials tell the public that no one should drink water in creeks and streams, because they have not been treated to kill bacteria. Even if water looks clear and smells fine, it could be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria.

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