Source of Jackson County E. coli outbreak still undetermined

MEDFORD, Ore. – The source of an E. coli outbreak in Jackson County remains under investigation.

Jackson County Public Health said they’ve been investigating several cases since August 8, 2021. Of the 16 people who were infected, 12 have been hospitalized.

Public health also says some young children sick with E. coli were sent to a hospital in Portland.

Diverse groups of E. coli bacteria normally live in the digestive tract of humans and animals. Most strains are harmless, but some produce toxins that can cause serious illness. In this outbreak, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia Coli (STEC) appears to be the source.

The types of E.coli that can cause symptoms can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

Investigators have yet to determine where this particular outbreak originated. “Right now, we do not have a definitive hypothesis on what the source of infection may be. The genome sequencing, performed at the state public health lab, has not matched any other cases in the state or nationally,” states Dr. Jim Shames, Health Officer for Jackson County Public Health. “Therefore, we continue to do in-depth interviews with those that have tested positive to help us identify a possible source of exposure.”

If you experience the most obvious symptoms—extreme or bloody diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea—you should visit your doctor as soon as possible.

More information about STEC can be found at the Oregon Health Authority’s website.

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