6 children hospitalized in King County from toxic E. coli

Public health officials in King County are investigating after seven children became seriously ill from a toxin-producing E. coli. Of those seven cases, six children required hospitalization.

According to King County Public Health, Shiga toxin-producing (STEC) E. coli infections can come from a number of sources, including: 

  • undercooked ground beef and other beef products
  • unpasteurized (raw) milk
  • cheese
  • juice
  • contaminated raw fruits, vegetables, sprouts and herbs
  • water contaminated with animal feces
  • direct contact with farm animals or their environment.
  • ready-to-eat foods through contact with raw beef or raw beef juices in the kitchen

So far, an investigation has not identified any foods or restaurants that could be a common source among all the cases. 

All seven children had symptoms consistent with STEC. The children started showing symptoms between April 17 to April 29, and cases were reported from April 22 to May 1. 

One of the six children hospitalized developed a type of kidney complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and is recovering. A second child is suspected to have HUS. 

All of the children are under the age of 14. 

"Public Health is conducting interviews with cases and their parents/guardians to help identify any common exposures. We are also working with the Washington State Department of Health to complete further testing and to help identify possible related cases in other counties," King County public health officials said. 

Anyone who is sick with suspected or known STEC should not work in or attend childcare or preschool, or work in food handling or healthcare until cleared by public health officials.

Learn more about STEC here

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