Local public health officials in France are investigating more than 20 cases of food poisoning, mainly affecting children.
The Hauts-de-France public health agency (ARS) reported the suspected epidemic in recent days among school students in a town in northern France.
In total, 21 students enrolled in three schools in Saint-André-lez-Lille have been identified to date and several children have had to be hospitalized. Authorities did not say which agent was responsible, but local media reported that it was E. coli, not to mention the serotype. ARS Hauts-de-France has not yet responded to a request for clarification.
The health agency coordinates investigations to determine the origin of the epidemic and put in place all the necessary public health measures. Information is shared with the parents of the pupils of the schools concerned.
Healthcare professionals have also been informed of the incident in order to better prepare to deal with suspected patients.
Authorities estimated the date of contamination to be around 2 or 3 September, taking into account the incubation period of one to eight days and the dates of onset of symptoms. They also found that all sick children ate in school canteens.
The municipal catering service which supplies food to the three schools is also supplying another school and three nurseries, but no infections have been reported at these sites.
About E. coli infections
Anyone who has developed symptoms of E. coli infection should see a doctor and tell their doctor about their possible food poisoning. Specific tests are needed to diagnose infections, which can mimic other illnesses.
Symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person, but often include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is often bloody. Some patients may also have a fever. Most patients recover within five to seven days. Others may develop serious or life-threatening symptoms and complications, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
About 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with E. coli infections develop a life-threatening complication of kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Symptoms of HUS include fever, abdominal pain, feeling very tired, decreased frequency of urination, small unexplained bruising or bleeding, and pallor.
Many people with HUS recover within weeks, but some suffer permanent injury or death. This condition can occur in people of any age, but it is more common in children under the age of five due to their immature immune system, the elderly due to a deteriorated immune system, and people with weakened immune systems. is weakened, like cancer patients.
People who show symptoms of HUS should seek immediate emergency medical attention. People with HUS will likely be hospitalized because the disease can cause other serious and persistent problems such as high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, brain damage, and neurological problems.
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