NATIONAL NEWS

Four students hospitalized in E. coli outbreak at the University of Arkansas

Aug 29, 2023, 9:50 AM

FILE - This colorized 2006 scanning electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Dis...

FILE - This colorized 2006 scanning electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows E. coli bacteria of the O157:H7 strain that produces a powerful toxin which can cause illness. Health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning among students at the University of Arkansas in late August 2023, with dozens reporting symptoms and several needing treatment in the hospital. (Janice Haney Carr/CDC via AP, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Janice Haney Carr/CDC via AP, File)

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of E. coli food poisoning among students at the University of Arkansas, with dozens reporting symptoms and at least four needing treatment in the hospital.

Among those affected are two 19-year-olds sorority members who developed a serious complication that can lead to kidney failure after being infected with the E. coli strain O157:H7. That’s according to Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer who said he reviewed the patients’ medical records after being contacted by the families.

One student was still in the intensive care unit of a local hospital Tuesday, Marler said, while the other returned home to recover.

About 100 students reported symptoms of E. coli infection, officials with the Arkansas Department of Health said, though it’s not clear how many are part of the outbreak. Officials are analyzing responses from a survey of more than 3,200 people to try to identify the source of the illnesses.

The outbreak, which likely began before Aug. 18, does not appear connected to the university’s public dining facilities, health officials said in a statement Monday. Classes at the University of Arkansas started Aug. 21.

E. coli bacteria live in the guts of humans and animals. Some strains, including E. coli O157:H7, produce dangerous toxins that can lead to serious illness and even death in humans. Common sources of E. coli outbreaks include ground beef and leafy greens.

Symptoms of E. coli food poisoning include a fever higher than 102 degrees Fahrenheit, diarrhea for more than three days, severe vomiting, dehydration and dizziness.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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Four students hospitalized in E. coli outbreak at the University of Arkansas