On October 19, the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) was notified several sixth grade students from Lincoln Middle School had diarrheal illness. The students had attended a field trip at a camp in Massachusetts from October 13 through October 16.
As of today (October 21), there have been 15 cases of diarrheal illness. There have been two students who tested positive for E Coli 0157. Two students are hospitalized.
“We want to assure parents and students that we are not seeing this diarrheal illness spread person to person,” said Chief of HEALTH’s Center for Infectious Diseases Robert S. Crausman, MD, MMS. “However, any student or chaperone who was on the field trip and has diarrhea should call their doctor for medical evaluation and treatment. HEALTH is working closely with our colleagues at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health in the investigation of this incident.”
Students or chaperones who were on the field trip who do not have diarrhea do not need to take any special precautions. Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the USDA are investigating foods at the camp as the likely source of this illness. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will be assisting with this investigation.
“Our first concern is the health and safety of our students and staff,” said Lincoln School Superintendent Georgia Fortunado. “We are working collaboratively with the Department of Health on this response.”
E Coli 0157 causes a bacterial illness similar to salmonella and can be very serious, particularly in very young children, the elderly and anyone with a weakened immune system. The best way to prevent spread of E Coli is to properly clean and cook raw vegetables and thoroughly cook meat (especially ground beef) and to practice good hand hygiene. For more information about E Coli, visit http://www.health.ri.gov/communicable/ecoli.php