ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–Local and state health officials are working to find the source of an E. Coli outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people in the region, including 16 in St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Health Department reports nine people — ranging in age from 4 to 97 —  have been hospitalized, most of them released, and none of the illnesses are described as life-threatening.

“They’re St. Louis county residents ranging from Florissant to south county,” said department spokesman John Shelton, “They’re also in west county and central county. So there is no common cluster like they were all in north county.  One thing I can tell you is there’s no indication they all attended the same event.”

Shelton says it appears the strain of E. Coli popping up here is one of the “top three most virulent” of some 700 different strains of E. Coli.

Mercy Health Center in Creve Couer has treated and released six of the patients.  They reported symptoms of bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and cramps.

“For E. Coli there is treatment , but in this situation,” said Dr. David Uhlrich, “you don’t want to give them antibiotics , because they can be resistant to that and make the symptoms much worse.”

Uhlrich advises the public to cook all meat well done, wash all produce thoroughly and take extra care washing your hands.

The County Health Department says the state health lab is working to create a “DNA fingerprint” of the strain involved, so that it can be sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta to determine whether there’s any connection between this St. Louis area outbreak and E. Coli cases nationwide.

Copyright KMOX Radio


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