Florida Department of Health Investigates Infections

TALLAHASSEE The Florida Department of Health (DOH) is working closely with local county health departments, infectious disease experts and local hospitals to investigate recently reported cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) in children. 


We assure all Floridians that we are vigilantly and thoroughly working to identify and control the source of these infections, said DOH Secretary John O. Agwunobi, MD, MBA, MPH.  We extend our deepest concern and sympathy to the children and families of those affected by this illness.


The investigation is being conducted both by local and state epidemiologists to explore commonalities between the reported cases of infection.  Facts and laboratory results are still being gathered and reviewed in order to confirm the diagnosis of each illness.


HUS is life-threatening illness, most commonly caused by an E. coli infection, in which red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail.  Blood transfusions and kidney dialysis are often required for treatment.  Some individuals may develop lifelong complications from HUS such as high blood pressure, seizures, blindness, paralysis and other effects of having part of the bowel removed.


HUS caused by E. coli infection can be spread through a variety of sources including consuming contaminated meat, contact with infected domestic or farm animals, drinking unpasteurized milk and juice, and swimming in or drinking sewage-contaminated water.


Severe bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps can be symptoms of infection.  DOH urges individuals to report any unexplained diarrhea associated with a fever to your health care provider.


To avoid infection and illness, DOH recommends the following safety tips:

           Wash hands often, and immediately after contact with domestic or farm animals.

           Do not eat undercooked meat.

           Parents and guardians should watch children closely, and set boundaries for them when around areas where domestic or farm animals are located.


Source: Florida Department of Health