Salmonella, norovirus and measles: 9 recent and ongoing outbreaks

Different parts of the United States have experienced outbreaks caused by bacteria and viruses in recent months. Some of these events have approached epidemic levels, while others have been comparatively small in scale. Nine such outbreaks are detailed below.

Norovirus

The Iowa Department of Public Health on Jan. 30 received multiple reports of over the previous few weeks.

The health department advised state residents experiencing symptoms of norovirus — such as vomiting and diarrhea — to isolate themselves at home and regularly wash their hands. Symptomatic individuals should also avoid food preparation.

In addition to vomiting and diarrhea, symptoms of norovirus can include stomach pain, fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Norovirus causes 56,000 to 71,000 hospitalizations and 570 to 800 deaths every year, according to the CDC.

Influenza

Illinois Math and Science Academy — a selective public high school in Aurora — closed its doors Jan. 22 after 14 percent of its students reported influenza symptoms and 24 percent of its employees were out sick.

Last week, the number of people in hospitals with flu-like illness increased from 6.6 percent to 7.1 percent, the third highest rate of flu-related hospitalizations recorded in the last 15 years, according to CDC officials. Hospitalizations peaked at 7.8 percent during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and 7.6 percent during the 2003-04 flu season.

Measles

Officials with the Texas Department of State Health Services were investigating six cases of the measles among unvaccinated Ellis County residents as of Jan. 23.

Health officials identified the first measles case in an individual who visited a local movie theatre in Waxahachie. The health department announced the first measles case Jan. 19 and later confirmed five additional cases. While all the cases were related, none were linked to exposure at the movie theatre.

Measles virus is highly transmissible and can result in symptoms such as fever, runny nose, cough and a red rash that covers the body. Two doses of the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine are 97 percent effective at preventing the measles, according to the CDC.

Whooping cough

Officials with the Orange County Health Department in North Carolina confirmed an outbreak of pertussis, or whooping cough, among several individuals at two local Chapel Hill high schools last month.

Health department officials identified pertussis cases at Chapel Hill High School and East Chapel Hill High. OCHD did not disclose the exact number of individuals affected in the outbreak. The sickened individuals began displaying symptoms the week of Jan. 15 and were subsequently isolated.

Pertussis causes violent coughing, which can persist for weeks or months. The bacterial illness is spread by person-to-person contact. Infants, young children and the elderly are at the highest risk for complications.

To learn more about pertussis, click here.

Salmonella

Investigators identified eight cases of Salmonella Montevideo in three states as of Jan. 18. The infections occurred between Dec. 20 and Jan. 3 among individuals who consumed raw sprouts on sandwiches served in six Jimmy Johns restaurants in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The outbreak has not caused any hospitalizations or deaths. The CDC tallied five infections in Wisconsin residents, two in Illinois residents and one in a Minnesota resident.

Additionally, federal and local regulatory officials as of Jan. 16 were investigating an outbreak of Salmonella caused by contaminated Coconut Tree Brand frozen shredded coconut. Six infected individuals were hospitalized in the outbreak, which involved nine states. No deaths were reported.

Salmonella infections typically last four to seven days. Symptoms include abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea. To learn more about Salmonellaclick here

Hepatitis A

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services tallied 677 cases of hepatitis A among residents in the southeast portion of the state as of Jan. 10, marking a 94-case increase since Dec. 6, 2017.

The number of hospitalizations linked to the outbreak increased from 482 to 554 in the same time period. Health officials also added two additional deaths Jan. 10, bringing the outbreak's death toll to 22. The outbreak started in August 2016.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include abdominal pain, low-grade fever, nausea, fatigue and jaundice. The virus is highly transmissible and most often spread via contact with fecal matter from an infected individual.

To learn more about hepatitis A, click here.

Escherichia coli

The CDC on Jan. 10 increased its case count related to a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli to 24, marking a seven-case increase since the agency initially reported the outbreak Dec. 28.

The illnesses occurred across 15 states from Nov. 15 through Dec.12. The illnesses contributed to nine hospitalizations and one death in California. Across the states, four cases occurred in California; three in Maryland; two in Connecticut, Indiana, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania; and one each in the following states: Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Federal officials investigated a possible link between the U.S. outbreak and similar infections reported in Canada. The Public Health Agency of Canada identified contaminated romaine lettuce as the source of the country's outbreak.

To learn more about E. coliclick here.

Mumps

The Hawaii Department of Health increased its case count for an ongoing mumps outbreak to 770 on Jan. 4.

The majority of infections (610) have occurred in Honolulu residents. Officials have also identified 108 cases on the island of Hawaii, 49 cases on Kauai and three cases on Maui. The state reported 10 mumps cases in 2016.

The mumps is a virus spread through person-to-person contact. The illness causes swelling of the salivary glands, fever, headache, muscle aches, tiredness and loss of appetite.

To learn more about the mumps, click here.

More articles on infection control: 
ACIP publishes 2018 vaccine guidance: 3 changes to know 
Hospital wastewater systems are a reservoir for drug-resistant bacteria: 5 study findings 
135 surgical patients exposed to unsterile equipment at Missouri hospital

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