October 2, 2023

No New Cases Reported in U of Arkansas E. coli Outbreak

No new cases have been reported in the U of Arkansas E. coli outbreak, according to the Arkansas Department of Health. That outbreak sickened at least 42 people, and four people were hospitalized because they were so ill.

No New Cases Reported in U of Arkansas E. coli Outbreak

There have been no new cases reported since the last U of Arkansas E. coli outbreak update that was issued on August 25, 2023. And all of the previously hospitalized patients who tested positive for E. coli have been discharged. As of the August 31, 2023 update, 37 of those cases were probable based on reported symptoms, while five cases were confirmed with positive tests. The four hospitalized patients tested positive.

Results from food samples taken for testing have not pointed to the source of the August outbreak. And the Department of Health has confirmed that it has no reason to believe the outbreak is connected to the University of Arkansas public dining facilities. The serovar of E. coli that sickened patients has not been named. although previous reports stated it was Shiga toxin-producing E. coli.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria produce Shiga toxins that can travel to the bloodstream and destroy red blood cells. When these damaged and dead cells get to the kidneys, they can clog small tubes called glomeruli. This can cause kidney damage and kidney failure.

In the past, E. coli outbreaks have been linked to irrigation water, romaine lettuce, falafel, contact with farm animals, baby spinach, and contact with animals at fairs. The pathogen lives in the guts of ruminant animals such as cows and goats. Those animals excrete the pathogen in their feces, and can contaminate streams, ponds, and rivers, as well as crops in the field.

Symptoms of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection start a few days, up to a week, after infection. Most people suffer from severe and painful abdominal cramps along with diarrhea that is bloody and watery. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see a doctor.


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