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Will County warns of E. coli cluster at beach areas

Seven cases confirmed, linked to Wilmington-Essex swimming area

JOLIET, Ill. — The Will County Health Department is investigating a cluster of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cases reported from Wilmington-Essex beach areas during the last two weeks of July. 

Will County Infectious Disease Control has notified Will County medical providers about the E. coli cluster, which includes seven cases involving children. Onset dates for the confirmed cases range from July 16 to August 1.

The notification to physicians recommends that testing be done on persons who present with symptoms compatible with E. coli infection, and have a history of swimming in the Wilmington-Essex area.

E. coli bacteria can cause illness, ranging from mild intestinal disease to illness involving severe kidney complications. Typical symptoms include: severe abdominal cramping, the sudden onset of watery diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting and a low-grade fever. Mild forms of the illness subside in 72 hours or less. More severe complications occur in one of every 10 cases.

Symptoms usually occur in one to eight days but often surface in five days or less.

Anyone can get infected with E. coli, but the highest infection rates are in children five years or younger. Persons with E. coli complications very often require hospitalizations.

Individuals with symptoms, especially bloody diarrhea, should consult a physician about the necessity for stool testing.

Questions can be directed to Will County Infectious Disease Control at (815) 727-8481.

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