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J.R. Whaley
J.R. Whaley
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Today’s Lesson: E. coli, STEC, and HUS Spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E


Any student likes a few extra days off of school. But some Louisiana students (and their parents) might not be enjoying this break as much as they normally would.

Food Safety News reports that Silliman Institute in Clinton, Louisiana has extended its Easter Break, perhaps due to a possible outbreak of E. coli, with one student reportedly being hospitalized with HUS (hemolytic-uremic syndrome).  HUS IS an incredibly serious, sometimes life-threatening condition which sometimes occurs after infection with E. coli O157:H7.  According to the government’s food safety website, E. coli causes bloody diarrhea and can sometimes cause kidney failure and even death. E. coli infection is typically caused by contaminated food and water.  E. coli O157:H7 makes a toxin called Shiga toxin and is known as a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

HUS occurs in roughly 10% of those infected with E. coli O157:H7.  HUS produces toxic substances that destroy red blood cells, causing kidney injury. HUS can require intensive care, kidney dialysis, and transfusions. Having represented families whose young ones have battled E. coli infections and HUS, I hope and pray that anyone  dealing with this makes a speedy and full recovery.

While my friends at Food Safety News question whether our Louisiana Napoleonic Code is to blame for the lack of information about the unexpected school closure (Quel est le problème, Bill?), the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, the Louisiana state regulatory agency, responsible for investigating these type of outbreaks, did give a statement to Food Safety News about the issue.

“There is an outbreak of STEC (Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli) in a school in Region 2 and it is being investigated,” according to Ashley Lewis, spokeswoman for Louisiana’s Department of Health and Hospitals.  “As the investigation progresses, the Department continues to take all necessary preventive measures to protect public health,” Lewis noted, adding, “Louisiana law prohibits the disclosure of the content of epidemiological investigations except to the institutions concerned. The Department would also clarify that any decisions related to facility closure have been made by the facilities themselves.”

As reported by Food Safety News, Silliman Institute gave notice about the newly extended Easter break with a red-letter announcement on the school’s website, but not explaining why.

The announcement states: “Silliman is closed Tuesday, March 31st and Wednesday, April 1st to extend the Easter break that is scheduled for Thursday, April 2nd through Monday, April 6th. We will resume regular schedule Tuesday, April 7th unless otherwise notified.”

As we start this holiday / holy-day weekend, we send good vibes to the students and community at Silliman Institute and pray that anyone infected with E. coli or HUS makes a speedy and full recovery, and that the source of the contamination is found and eradicated.


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  1. J. R. WHALEY says:
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    That’s wonderful news that your child is doing better. I am sure it was a happier Easter with your child on the mend! It’s scary stuff. Hopefully DHH will determine the source of the contamination. Please keep us informed. Thanks for the information.

  2. Parent says:
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    My children attend Silliman Institute and the school notified all parents by text then email why the school was extending
    Easter break. We were all aware of the issue.
    We have also received several e-mails keeping the parents updated regarding this. We also received information from
    The health department on E.Coli157:H7
    My child is one of the children that has suffered
    from this. We were in the hospital 4 days
    And it has taken 2 weeks to feel a little better.
    Silliman institute and the staff have been very
    kind and concerned and have kept us informed
    the whole time.
    Thank you.