Published Date: 2004-07-22 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/EDR> E. coli O157, cantaloupes - USA (MT)
Archive Number: 20040722.1997
E. COLI O157, CANTALOUPES - USA (MONTANA)
A ProMED-mail post
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International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sat 17 Jul 2004
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: Billings Gazette MT [edited]
Cantaloupe blamed for _E. coli_ illness
A cantaloupe appears to be the culprit that caused several children to fall
ill at a Billings day-care center. Medical sleuths at the Yellowstone City
County Health Department deduced that the tainted melon was the likely
source of an _E. coli_ O157:H7 infection that sickened at least 6 children,
ages 18 months to 5 years, at the Little Seeds Early Childhood Center. The
news was announced on Fri 16 Jul 2004 by Dr. Doug Moore, chief medical
director and assistant health officer for the Yellowstone City-County
"All of the information we have gathered in the past 72 hours indicates
that the cantaloupe served at lunch on 6 Jul 2004 was the likely source of
infection," Moore said.
How the cantaloupe became infected with the bacteria is still under study
and may never be known, Moore said. Lab tests confirmed that 6 children
were infected with this particular _E. coli_ strain. In some cases, _E.
coli_ O157:H7 has been known to cause serious illness in children,
including kidney problems, and require hospitalization. None of the Little
Seeds youngsters needed hospital care, Moore said.
Children tend to suffer from food-borne illness in greater numbers than
other age groups, according to the CDC. In the past 3 months [May, June,
July 2004], similar outbreaks occurred at day-care centers in Joplin, MO,
and the Bronx, NY.
Interviews with parents, and Little Seed staff, revealed that more people
may have been infected with _E. coli_, but those cases have not been
confirmed with a lab test. The interviews also helped health department
investigators to pinpoint the source of the problem, Moore said. "Because
we are dealing with an isolated incident, the probability of more children
becoming ill from this outbreak is minimal," Moore said.
"However, the possibility still exists that siblings or parents caring for
ill children could become infected."
While investigating the _E. coli_ outbreak, the health department also
discovered 8 cases of campylobacteriosis in children associated with the
Billings day-care center. 3 of the 8 also had the _E. coli_ infection.
Health department officials met with Little Seeds staff and parents to
share the results of their investigation. The day care, which cares for 80
youngsters, infants up through age 5, is scheduled to reopen Mon 19 Jul 2004.
[Byline: Susan Olp]
[Melons can be the source of enteric pathogens when the outside rind is
contaminated, and, then, by cutting into the melon, the bacteria are
introduced into the part of the melon that is eaten. _Salmonella
enteritidis_ serotype Poona has been linked to cantaloupes in the past. It
is not clear if the campylobacteriosis represents an independent outbreak,
since it is usually linked to poultry.- Mod.LL]