Health Officials Now Confirm 11 Cases in Area E. Coli Outbreak

The number of cases in a Stephens County E. coli outbreak first reported last Thursday on AM 630 WNEG has risen from 7 to 11.

In an e-mail statement released Monday night, District Two Public Health Spokesman Dave Palmer said 10 Georgia residents and one South Carolina resident have been confirmed as having a strain of E. Coli.

In addition, Palmer said that 10 of the 11 patients reported eating at the BBQ Shack in Toccoa during the weekend of May 2 through 4, with no other common exposures being reported among patients.

According to Palmer, investigators have not yet identified the exact source of the E. Coli infection. Palmer added that the BBQ Shack is working closely with state and local public health officials in the ongoing investigation.

Palmer said that evidence to date indicates that people were at risk for exposure only during that first weekend in May.

He went on to say the onset of illness in the 11 confirmed E. coli cases ranged from May 4 to May 8, adding that no cases have been identified with illness onsets after May 8.

According to Palmer, 7 of the 11 cases have been hospitalized as a result of the infections, and five of those patients have been diagnosed with a complication called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, or HUS. According to information found through the National Institute of Health website, HUS is a disease that destroys red blood cells and causes kidney injury. It can lead to kidney failure.

E. Coli is a bacteria and infection from the bacteria can cause serious illness, leading to hospitalization.

Health officials said symptoms of E. Coli infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and bloody diarrhea and occur about three to four days after exposure to the bacteria.

Those officials went on to say anyone who experiences the symptoms for E. Coli infection should seek advice from the health care provider.