According to 24 News, 16 people in Wood County have come down with E. coli in the past week, prompting the health department to begin investigating. From 2016 to 2020 the county only saw 27 cases altogether.

“Even a case or two is something we want to identify and respond to quickly so that if it is, in fact, something that could spread to others we have a chance to stop it,” said Benjamin Robison, the health commissioner for the Wood County Health Department. 

Those who have fallen ill range from ages 13 to 60 years old and those who contract the virus can experience different levels of sickness and gastrointestinal symptoms.

“Basically they’ll have a little bit of nausea, maybe a little bit of diarrhea, but they won’t be functionally disabled but then some people will get severely dehydrated and actually require hospitalization,” said Dr. Brian Kaminski, the vice president of quality and safety for ProMedica. 

Out of the 16 people who have contracted the virus in Wood County, six are currently in the hospital.

“So we want people to seek care and if you have any questions about this, please do engage your physician. Not only can they help you to get treatment but they can also help to connect you to testing,” Robison said. 

The Wood County Health Department has sent lab samples to the Ohio Department of Health to learn whether or not the illnesses are connected. Results, and more information, are expected early next week.

“We are doing a comprehensive investigation to understand what the cause of this was. Until we know whether these diseases are being caused by the same strain, we really have to wait to understand what our next steps are going to be,” Robison said. 

The Wood County Health Department encourages anyone who experiences E. coli-related symptoms to reach out to them and fill out a survey.