December 14, 2019

Sisseton South Dakota E. coli Outbreak Sickens Eight Children

A Sisseton South Dakota E. coli outbreak has sickened eight children, according to news reports. The South Dakota Department of Health is investigating this outbreak.

Sisseton South Dakota E. coli Outbreak Sickens Eight Children

Some of the patients have been hospitalized, but we don’t know how many. We also don’t know if any of the children has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a serious complication of an E. coli infection.

Dr. Joshua Clayton, the state epidemiologist, told the Aberdeen News that the source of the pathogen has not been identified. The Department of Health was notified about the outbreak last week by either a physician or a hospital after the first infection was confirmed. And he said that the disease can be spread person-to-person.

While some of the patients may have gone to the Sisseton swimming pool, there is no confirmed link, according to Dr. Clayton. Samples taken from that water have been normal.

E. coli infections can be acquired through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. In the past, there have been gastrointestinal outbreaks linked to water facilities such as water parks and splash pads. An E. coli outbreak in 2017 may have been linked to a beach in California.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria live in the guts of ruminant animals such as cows and goats. The bacteria is shed in the animal’s feces. That feces can then contaminate water near farms, and can contaminate produce or cause problems with runoff into lakes and streams. Most E. coli outbreaks are linked to contaminated food.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever if one is present, vomiting, severe and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is typically watery and bloody. These symptoms usually start a few days after exposure to the bacteria.

Symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of this infection that is most common in children under the age of 5, include little urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, and a skin rash. This condition can be life-threatening. Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs to see a doctor as soon as possible.

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