Media reports indicate that the North Carolina Division of Public Health is investigating an E.coli cluster in Wake County, North Carolina. The cluster has sickened at least six children and one adult. Four of the people sickened have required hospitalization, and 2 were treated in intensive care, likely because they had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The State of North Carolina is working with the Wake County Health Department to determine whether the cases are related–i.e. whether the cluster of illnesses is an outbreak. Health officials were still interviewing patients on Tuesday and awaiting the results of lab tests, which should be completed next week, according to a health department spokesperson.
Post-diarrheal hemolytic uremic syndrome (D+HUS) is a severe, life-threatening complication that occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with E. coli O157:H7 or other Shiga toxin- (Stx-) producing E. coli. D+HUS was first described in 1955, but was not known to be secondary to E. coli infections until 1982. It is now recognized as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children. Adolescents and adults are also susceptible, as are the elderly, who often succumb to the disease.