DOCTOR'S VIEWS ARCHIVE
E. Coli Outbreaks in Potato Salad and Wading Pool
Potato Salad in Illinois
In Orland Park, Illinois near Chicago, more than 4,000 people took sick after eating potato salad prepared by Iwan's Deli and Catering for more than 530 parties over the weekend of June 6, a busy weekend for graduations. This is the largest known outbreak in the U.S. of the enterotoxigenic strain of E. coli (ETEC).
ETEC has been generally viewed as a disease of developing countries. It is a common cause of diarrhea among children in the developing countries and among travelers to these countries. ETEC remains the most common cause of traveler's diarrhea or "Montezuma's revenge". However, the Illinois outbreak is an obvious reminder that ETEC is not foreign to the U.S.
ETEC infection is acquired mainly through eating food and drinking water that are contaminated with the bacteria. Toxins produced by the bacteria in the small intestine cause profuse diarrhea. Most people recover in 3-5 days, although severe dehydration can occur in the very young and the elderly.