The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) is investigating four cases of E. coli O157:H7 and two cases of Rotavirus in younger children in Northeastern Alabama. ADPH regularly investigates clusters and outbreaks of communicable diseases as required by Notifiable Disease Rules in Alabama.
In 2021, ADPH investigated 113 cases of E. coli, shiga toxin-producing illness (includes O157:H7). People of any age can become infected with this germ, but very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe illness and kidney problems than others.
The symptoms of E. coli O157 and similar E. coli infections can vary. Symptoms frequently include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Fever up to 101 degrees F may occur, but is not the most common symptom. While most people improve in 5-7 days of illness, it is important that persons who have symptoms talk to their healthcare provider, especially if the persons are having bloody diarrhea or are very young or elderly.
To reduce the risk of E. coli O157:H7 and other gastrointestinal illnesses, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends:
- WASH YOUR HANDS thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
- WASH YOUR HANDS after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own back yard).
- COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160 degrees F/70 degrees C. It is best to use a thermometer as color is not a very reliable indicator of “doneness.”
- AVOID raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
- AVOID swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools and backyard “kiddie” pools.
- PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards and utensils after they touch raw meat.