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Greenwood County STEC Investigation

Please see below for the latest updates from DHEC on the Greenwood County STEC investigation.

CDC Review of the Outbreak of E. coli 0157 Infections in a S.C. Childcare Facility (pdf)

Previous Updates

July 24, 2015

June 26, 2015

June 17, 2015

June 13, 2015

June 12, 2015

June 10, 2015

June 8, 2015

June 7, 2015

June 2, 2015

If you have additional questions or concerns about this investigation, please call 1-800-868-0404.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is STEC?

  • STEC causes gastroenteritis (an infection in the lining of stomach and/or intestines).
  • The symptoms of STEC infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/less than 38.5˚C).
  • Most people get better within 5–7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others can be severe or even life-threatening.

How is STEC spread?

Exposures that cause illness include eating contaminated food, drinking raw milk or other unpasteurized products, drinking water that has not been disinfected, direct contact with animals, or contact with the feces of infected people.

Sometimes the contact is obvious (working with cows at a dairy or changing diapers, for example), but sometimes it is not (like eating an undercooked hamburger or a contaminated piece of lettuce).

STEC typically disappear from the feces by the time the illness is resolved, but may be shed for several weeks, even after symptoms go away. Young children tend to carry STEC longer than adults.

What to do if you or your family member is ill with STEC

  • Teach your family members to WASH THEIR HANDS often, using soap and warm water after using the bathroom, before eating and when changing diapers. Use an alcohol-based hand rub only if soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly soiled.
  • Do not send children to school or childcare if they are sick. If your child has diarrhea, keep him or her at home and away from school until diarrhea has ended and the child has been cleared by a medical professional to return. Two negative STEC test results are required for all infected students prior to returning to school or daycare.
  • Do not send children to other group settings (Sunday school, birthday parties, etc.) if they are sick.
  • Contact your healthcare provider if you or your child have diarrhea that lasts for more than 3 days, or is accompanied by high fever, stomach cramping, blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you/your child cannot keep liquids down and you/your child pass very little urine.

Other Ways to Prevent STEC Infections

  • COOK meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70˚C. It's best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of "doneness."
  • AVOID raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (like fresh apple cider).
  • AVOID swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard "kiddie" pools.
  • PREVENT cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat. To learn more about how to protect you/your child from E. coli, see CDC's feature, E. coli Infection.

Cleaning Recommendations

  • It is important to thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces that may be contaminated.
  • Clean hard surfaces in your home that are commonly touched with a bleach solution. Use 1/3 cup bleach in 1-gallon of hot water to wipe down hard surfaces in your home (doorknobs, sink knobs and faucets, toilet seats and handles, refrigerator door handles, telephones, TV remote controls, etc.). Wear gloves for protection when handling chemicals.
STEC Statistics

In South Carolina we had 9 STEC cases in 2013 and 14 in 2014. An estimated 265,000 STEC infections occur each year in the United States.