By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Philadelphia health officials issued a health alert today over a Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC).

Image by Bruce Emmerling from Pixabay

In the past week, the Philadelphia Department of Public Health has received fourteen reports of STEC among persons ages 7 – 90 years.

All affected persons presented with signs of acute gastroenteritis with bloody and non-bloody diarrhea.

Health officials say the cluster may be related to shared exposures at restaurants.

STEC is one of five types of diarrhea-producing E. coli strains and causes diarrhea with hemorrhagic colitis due to production of Shiga toxin.

Symptoms usually begin with non-bloody diarrhea that can progress to bloody diarrhea after 2-3 days when hemorrhagic colitis develops. Severe abdominal pain and fever may also be present. An important complication of STEC enteritis is hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), defined by the presence of hemolytic anemia, low platelets and acute renal dysfunction.

Subscribe to Outbreak News TV

HUS develops 7-14 days after diarrhea onset and can result in renal failure, neurologic symptoms (seizures and coma), and death. Approximately 6% of persons with STEC O157 will develop HUS (compared to ~1% with other STEC serotypes). HUS risk is highest in children ages 1-4 years.