Boy treated for E. coli illness |

Boy treated for E. coli illness

by Merrie Leininger

A 9-year-old Minden boy is recovering from a bout with illness caused by E. coli bacteria.

According to Doug Banghart, senior communicable disease specialist with the Nevada Bureau of Disease Control and Intervention, the boy’s illness was an isolated case and the cause is unknown.

“We do get sporadic cases. If we get multiple cases, we get a little more concerned,” Banghart said. “In 1999 so far, we’ve only had two cases reported statewide. The other case was in Washoe County a month earlier.”

Disease control investigates the cases by asking standard questions about all food-borne pathogens, Banghart said, such as where they groceries were purchased, if the patient had been on a farm and if they had eaten ground meat not completely cooked.

The boy’s father said no one else in the family got sick and it is a “real mystery” where he picked up the bacteria. He said his son will be back to normal soon.

Banghart said it is often difficult to determine where the pathogen was picked up.

“If government testing labs discover it in a food product, we will get a recall, but it is certainly ubiquitous in our environment. Some animals carry it and don’t get it. It’s impossible to do environmental sampling unless the family still has something like undercooked ground meat,” Banghart said. “Unless there’s an outbreak, we can’t narrow it down.”

Banghart said his agency was notified by Carson-Tahoe Hospital where the boy was taken with symptoms May 25. Hospitals are required by law to notify the department of cases of E. coli.

Banghart said usual symptoms include diarrhea, fever, cramping and sometimes headache.

The reason some people die of the infection is because it can cause kidney failure in the very young and the very old, he said.

Banghart said generally people will stay in the hospital for about three days to recover from dehydration, but will have a few more days of bed rest at home when they are tired and weak with loss of weight.

Banghart said people can avoid E. coli by thoroughly cooking any ground meat, not just ground beef.

“We don’t want anybody getting this,” he said.

He also suggested frequently washing hands, especially before eating.

Young children always should drink only pasteurized products such as apple juice and milk.

“It’s just too risky to give them unpasteurized,” Banghart said.