Wood Co. Health Department, CDC investigating E. Coli outbreak

Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 2:02 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - The Wood County Health Department is investigating an E. coli outbreak that has sent at least seven people to the hospital.

According to health department officials, there have been at least 20 recent E. coli cases. For comparison, the county reports only 27 cases over the last 6.5 years.

The CDC issued a notice of an investigation into an E. coli outbreak affecting Ohio and Michigan on Wednesday. The agency created a website to compile the publicly-accessible information on the outbreak here.

Health department officials say they haven’t determined a link between the cases yet.

“We’re looking at every potential cause when doing an investigation, whether a person ate something in their house or out of their house,” says Wood County Health Commissioner Ben Robison. “We want to make sure we have a full understanding of what may have occurred, and then our state and federal partners can help us to identify which of those paths makes the most sense and what steps each of us need to take at every level as we continue to identify what could have occurred.”

The health department has sent out samples to labs from people who have E. coli. Robison confirmed they have received five samples back from labs and they re all the same strain of E. coli. That strain is Shiga toxin 2 which the health commissioner says is one of the more severe strains.

Dr. James Jones is a primary care physician with Mercy Health. When you have E. coli, Dr. Jones says “most typically patients will present with belly pain as well as diarrhea.”

He also describes when you should seek medical attention: “If they have six runny bowel movements in the span of 24 hours, if the diarrhea is bloody, if that belly pain is really severe, if a fever is higher than 101.3 degrees and it doesn’t go away after a day, or if you have diarrhea or a fever and you’re over 70 years old. If one of those things are happening we really want to get you checked out,” says Dr. Jones.

The Wood County Health Department is waiting for more samples back from labs which will help paint a better picture of what’s happening in Wood County.

E. coli infections are caused by a bacteria and often are spread through contaminated food or bodies of water. The symptoms are generally similar to what you’d get with a stomach bug but E. coli could also cause respiratory infections.

The health department says you should contact your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms and request a test. The health department also asks that you fill out this survey to report your symptoms.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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