SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) - More than 300 Marines at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego are being treated for possible E. Coli bacteria infection, MCRD officials confirmed Tuesday.
The source of the outbreak is under investigation as it's still unclear how so many got exposed to E. Coli and what was the initial source sending many to be treated.
"E. Coli can be spread from person to person, but is not usually casual contact," said Dr. Lance Fuchs, a Kaiser family physician. "It is usually if someone prepares a meal for you and they have the infection or something like if there is undercooked meat."
MCRD San Diego said that as of Tuesday, 302 recruits are being treated for diarrheal illness and some Marines have been infected with the Shiga toxin that causes E. Coli bacteria.
"That is a relatively high incidence and I would imagine them being close together or eating at the same location might be a way that you could spread that quickly," said Dr. Fuchs.
Limited cases were reported over the last six days with a spike in reports happening Tuesday, MCRD San Diego said. Ten recruits have been admitted at off-base facilities while the rest are being treated on base.
Cases have been reported at both MCRD San Diego and the Edson Range at Camp Pendleton.
Normal training regimens are continuing as scheduled at the 5,500- recruit military training station adjacent to Lindbergh Field, according to the base's public-affairs office.
"The most common symptoms of E.Coli are abdominal pain and diarrhea," said Dr. Fuchs. "Sometimes people can have nausea and vomiting, but not all the time. If somebody has a high fever or blood in their stool, they should definitely seek medical attention."
In a statement, Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general, MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region said:
Our immediate focus is identifying, isolating and treating recruits who present symptoms. We are working to identify the cause of the sickness, making sure our affected recruits can return to training as soon as possible and continuing training for recruits not influenced.
MCRD San Diego said it has ramped up hygiene protocol on base in light of the outbreak, including:
- Separation and treatment protocols which isolates recruits presenting symptoms and limits interaction with unaffected recruits.
- Increased hygiene requirements focusing on handwashing.
- Enhanced facilities cleaning to ensure proper sanitation and hygiene in all areas.
- Increased inspections of barracks, chow halls and common areas by Naval Medical Center San Diego's Preventative Medicine Unit.
- The dissemination of guidance on identifying possible symptoms to proactively seek treatment for potential cases.
The majority of the more than 5,500 recruits training at the base are not affected and are following their usual training schedule. MCRD San Diego said that families of recruits will be contacted if graduation dates are changed.
Dr. Fuchs said the best way is to keep good hygiene and avoid close contact with anyone affected.
"People should just use good common sense and wash their hands frequently before they eat and after they use the restroom," he said.
The average time for people to develop symptoms is 3 days but can be much sooner.
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