E.coli strain hitting Broome County

By Brandi Bailey

July 22, 2013 Updated Jul 22, 2013 at 9:11 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Two cases of E.coli have been confirmed in Broome County, and three more are now under investigation by the health department, which is trying to determine whether the new cases are linked to those previously connected to Nathaniel Cole Park.

"We have seen three additional cases in Broome County. Some have nothing to do with Cole Park and some have something to do with Cole park," said Public Health Director Claudia Edwards.

The health department is still waiting to hear whether those cases are linked to Cole Park and if they are the same strain, which has been found to be E.coli 026, Edwards said.

That's the strain that's been hitting the Southern Tier and eight other states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, California, West Virginia, Missouri and Michigan.

"It could be contaminated hamburger meat, it could be contaminated lettuce, it could be poor hand washing. Once a person is infected there's a high chance of infecting other family members," Edwards said.

It could also be as simple as a child in a diaper entering the water and contaminating it.

The health department stresses the importance of washing hands, cooking ground beef well and making sure to wash produce.

It's also important to watch out for symptoms.

"The symptoms right away are abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea -- and pretty often bloody diarrhea -- vomiting," Edwards said.

E.coli can spread when oral contact is made with fecal matter found on hands and arms.

It can also be spread by a utensil touching contaminated meat, and then using the same utensil on something else.

Within the next few weeks, the health department will know more about the other three unconfirmed cases and whether they are officially related to Cole Park, Edwards said.

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