E. coli outbreak at suburban school linked to 22 other cases in 10 states: CDC

According to the CDC, a Huntley High School outbreak that consisted of at least nine cases of the Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli is tied to "a larger multistate outbreak"

An E. coli outbreak at a suburban Chicago high school has been linked to nearly two dozen other cases in the U.S. spanning at least 10 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the CDC, a Huntley High School outbreak that consisted of at least nine cases of the Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli is tied to "a larger multistate outbreak." That outbreak now consists of at least 22 cases in 10 states, according to the investigation.

The McHenry County Health Department said Wednesday the outbreak at the school "has been declared over with no new cases" reported in the last 20 days.

"At this time, no definitive source for the cluster of illness has been identified," the department said in a statement to NBC Chicago. "It is noteworthy that this particular strain of STEC identified with this cluster of illness has been linked to similar clusters/cases across the country."

The department originally said the investigation was "complicated" and had "multiple potential exposures within the school and outside of the school."

According to a press release, any child who experiences symptoms of E. coli must be kept home until they are symptom-free for at least 48 hours.

E. coli is extremely contagious, with officials saying it can be spread by:

-Swallowing water while swimming, or drinking water contaminated with STEC bacteria

-Person-to-person transmission, where the bacteria passes from stool or soiled fingers of one person to another through food handling or direct contact.

-Animal contact by touching or handling animals carrying the bacteria

"Sometimes we get these clusters of cases, and these outbreaks that occur within the communities," said Dr. Irfan Hafiz, chief medical officer at Northwestern McHenry, Huntley, and Woodstock Hospitals. "That’s what we’re seeing in the Huntley community right now."

Hafiz said the cause of such outbreaks is typically a "common food source or water source."

"There’s some type of contaminated meats or some kind of fruit or vegetables that are contaminated," Hafiz said. "Sometimes it could be pool water that’s not completely chlorinated. Those are some potential sources that have been known to occur."

Symptoms of E. coli typically include an acute onset of diarrhea and/or vomiting. Nausea, abdominal cramps, fever and body aches are also typical symptoms, all of which can last for 5-to-10 days.

The illness often has an incubation period of 2-to-10 days, according to officials.

"If you are having symptoms, you definitely don’t want to be handling food, you don’t want to be serving food," Hafiz said. "If you’re taking care of somebody that has symptoms, definitely hand washing and taking precautions is necessary."

No further information was immediately available.

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