Oct. 10 Update:
The Perkiomen Valley School District has released a revised statement regarding the potential Escherichia (E.) Coli diagnosis of a South Elementary School student:
"On Oct. 9, the Perkiomen Valley School District issued an email alert to families regarding what we thought was a confirmed case of E. coli O157:H7," the release said. "It has since come to our attention that no particular strain of E. coli has yet been determined."
Montgomery County Communications Director Frank Custer said that, while the 0157:H7 strain of E. coli was ruled out, it could be a different strain of that bacteria - or something completely different.
"The [Montgomery County] health department has sent materials to the state for futher analysis," Custer said. "We will be hearing back in the next several days."
PVSD's message also says that, regardless of the diagnosis, this serves as a reminder for hand-washing techniques.
"The intent of our initial email was to remind everyone of the importance of washing one’s hands to prevent the spread of germs, and that message still holds true," the release said. "We hope families will refer to the hand-washing instructions that were sent out previously and keep them in mind for the protection and safety of their loved ones."
Oct. 9 Orginal Story:
The Perkiomen Valley School District (PVSD) released a message to parents today stating that a South Elementary School student was clinically diagnosed with Escherichia (E.) Coli 0157:H7 after visiting a local farm.
The student did not attend school for the duration of the illness, and the case was reported to the Montgomery County Health Department, according to the school district.
While some E.coli strands are harmless, 0157:H7 produces powerful toxins which can cause severe illness, according to Pennsylvania Department of Health (PDH) information that was distributed in the message to parents.
Symptoms of this E.coli strain include stomach cramps, vomiting, bloody diarrhea and dehydration, which normally start three to four days after coming into contact with the bacteria and will last for roughly a week, according to the PDH.
While most people recover from these symptoms, they can progress to a more serious medical issue called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), according to PDH. Symptoms include decreased urination, unexplained bruises, a pale or swollen appearance, bleeding from the nose or gums, seizures and fatigue. This issue is life-threatening and requires hospitalization.
For more information on E. coli, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
E. coli 0157:H7 is spread through contaminated food or water, or from other infected people. At-risk food includes undercooked ground beef, produce grown in certain manure, produce washed in contaminated water and unpasteurized dairy or juice products, according to the PDH.
The bacteria can also be transmitted from person to person on unwashed hands and surfaces, by touching animals at farms or petting zoos, or by swimming in contaminated water, according to PVSD.
The school requests that parents talk to children about proper hand-washing techniques to control the spread of bacteria.