Contact: Geni Alexander, PIO
(573)874-7632 or (573)819-2813 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Updates
Status of Investigation into E. coli Cases in Boone County
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services continues to lead the local investigation into an increased number of E. coli cases in Boone County.
To date, the department has sent or is sending five (5) samples from Boone County individuals suspected to have the illness to the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory (SPHL). So far, the SPHL has confirmed four (4) of those samples as positive for E. coli O157:H7.
Staff continue to conduct patient interviews and communicate with local hospitals and physicians to assist in the identification, diagnosis and treatment of patients suspected to have E. coli illness. At this point, investigators have not identified a commonality among all five cases. To date, local investigators have not sent local food samples to the SPHL for testing.
Public health officials continue to urge anyone experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms, including severe stomach cramps, diarrhea or nausea, to seek medical attention.
REGARDING THE BOONE COUNTY CLUSTER AND THE ST. LOUIS AREA OUTBREAK
Laboratory testing is required to confirm the existence of E. coli, and to identify the specific strain and "genetic fingerprint" involved, so as to establish whether the suspected cases are part of the same outbreak. This testing, which includes the culturing of bacteria, requires several days. As previously stated, thus far, four (4) of five (5) human stool samples have tested positive for a strain of E. coli known as E. coli O157:H7. In addition, two (2) of the samples have completed the process down to "fingerprint" identification. One (1) of those matches the fingerprint of the St. Louis outbreak, but other aspects of that person's illness do not meet the case definition of the St. Louis outbreak as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - CDC (the person has not traveled to St. Louis). The completion of testing on remaining samples continues.
While "fingerprinting" is not yet complete on Boone County's fourth (4th) confirmed E. coli O157:H7 case, it is considered a "probable" case in the St. Louis area outbreak because it meets CDC's case definition for "probable" (the person has traveled to St. Louis). If/when the fingerprint identification matches the St. Louis outbreak, the person will be considered a "confirmed" case in the St. Louis outbreak. If/when the fingerprint identification does NOT match the St. Louis outbreak, that case will still be considered part of the Boone County cluster.
Officials cannot, at this point, say conclusively that there is "a connection" or "no connection" between the St. Louis area outbreak and the Boone County cluster. While it cannot be linked to a common source at this time, investigators continue to explore all possibilities.