An outbreak of STEC- Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) has hit the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD), San Diego where some 5500 recruits are currently in training.

On Oct 31, MCRD San Diego reported 302 Marine recruits were affected by the diarrheal disease.

E. coli/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
E. coli/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

In an update on Nov. 1, Marine officials said approximately 214 recruits at both MCRD San Diego and the command’s field training facilities at Edson Range, Camp Pendleton, Calif., are symptomatic of E.coli exposure with diarrheal illness as of Nov. 1.

Of the 214 recruits undergoing treatment, 26 are new cases among the more than 5500 recruits in training. Twelve recruits are admitted to an off-base medical facility while the remainder are being cared for aboard the base.

“The command’s full effort is focused on caring for those recruits who are affected, ensuring we limit any spread of the illness, and identifying the source of the infection,” said Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general, MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region.

Actions taken to get some answers about the outbreak include:

Samples and specimens have been forwarded for testing to the US Army Public Health Command located aboard Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX, where they will be tested and processed by the Food Analysis and Diagnostic Lab to determine the cause of the illness.

Preventative Medicine Units at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton continue to inspect all messing facilities for cleanliness, food storage, and handling procedures.

Food menu alterations have been adopted for infected personnel to better facilitate maintaining diet and recovery.

E. coli is transmitted by eating contaminated food or water and by contact with fecal material from infected persons or animals. Person to person spread of bacteria is possible and may occur in family settings, daycare centers and nursing homes.

Signs and symptom of E. coli 0157 infection or STEC include severe abdominal cramps and loose and bloody diarrhea. Symptoms occur an average of 3-5 days after swallowing the germ. Some individuals become infected but do not develop symptoms. People do not develop immunity to E. coli.