E Coli investigation expands - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

E Coli investigation expands

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

June 30, 2008

 MOULTRIE, GA (WALB) - Another case of E-Coli is confirmed in Moultrie, bringing the total to two, while health officials await test results on a dozen more suspected cases.

It's caused District Health officials to expand their investigation in a search for the common threat in the cluster of cases.

They're now re-questioning some of those with symptoms and checking with other south Georgia hospitals and local doctors in an effort to pinpoint a cause.

What's sent more than a dozen people to Colquitt Regional Medical Center with E-coli type symptoms? At first, ground beef was suspected, but now, health officials aren't so sure.

"Sometimes the source has been from ground beef, but in this particular situation we absolutely do not know the source at this point in time," said District Deputy Health Director Brenda Greene.

That's why they're expanding their investigation, with two confirmed cases, and a 15-year-old girl at Children's Hospital of Atlanta with severe symptoms.

"The thing we know is that these individuals have had diarrhea which is the initial symptom that they have presented themselves to seek medical care for," said Greene.

Colquitt Regional discovered they saw the largest number of people with symptoms on the 19th and 20th, but had another case this weekend. Now they're urging everyone to cooked meat thoroughly and stressing hand washing.

"And then making sure when we're doing other food preparation making sure we're taking safety precautions and not cross contaminating our raw vegetables with any uncooked meats or that type of thing," Greene said.

They'll also check with other hospitals and doctors to determine if cases exist outside of Moultrie and plan to check several restaurants and ask about swimming habits.

"We even ask them things like have they been swimming lately and where have they been swimming because there are certain diarrhea like illnesses you can get with the water."

Health officials say they may never find a link between the cases and hope future test results might tell them something more.

A letter will be sent to Moultrie area physicians alerting them of the situation and urging them to conduct E-coli testing if the slightest symptoms occur.

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