Havre Daily News
After the recent arrival of Norovirus, also known
as Norwalk virus, to Hill County, health workers
now have another illness to fight: E. coli. One confirmed
case of E. coli has appeared in the county
and another two possible cases are being tested, Hill
County Health Department nursing director Cindy
Smith said today.
The tests for E. coli infection turned up positive
for one patient Thursday afternoon. The health
department knows of eight confirmed cases of
norovirus in Hill County, she said.
“We know it is in the community. We know we
have it,” Smith said of the Norovirus.
She said there is no known correlation between
the one confirmed and two suspected cases of E.
coli. County health department workers are working
along with the state to investigate the case and find
the source of the E. coli, she said. The majority of
the work would normally be done by the Hill County
sanitarian Clay Vincent, who is on vacation this
Smith said some of the symptoms of the two illnesses
mimic one another and at times it is hard to
diagnose which disease the patient has. E. coli
infection often causes blood in stools and abdominal
cramps. But sometimes the infection causes nonbloody
diarrhea or no symptoms. The infection usually
lasts from five to 10 days.
“Most people come through it okay,” Smith said.
Common symptoms of Norovirus include vomiting,
diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea. The
virus also may cause headaches, fever, chills, muscle
cramps and fatigue. The worst symptoms usually
last from three to five days but a person is contagious
from the onset of symptom through up to 14
days after the last sign of illness, Smith said. People
should contact their doctor and the health department
if symptoms last more than two days, she
According to the Centers fo Disease Control and
Prevention, cases are commonly associated with
eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef,
which may look and smell normal. Person-to-person
contact, eating contaminated lettuce or sprouts,
drinking raw milk, and swimming in or drinking
sewage-contaminated water also may cause infection.
The public can prevent E. coli infection by cooking
ground beef thoroughly, not drinking unpasteurized
milk and washing hands carefully and frequently.
Bacteria in diarrheal stools of infected persons
can be passed from one person to another if hygiene
or handwashing habits are inadequate, according to
the CDC Web site. Households with toddlers who are
not potty trained are at a high risk of becoming
infected. Infections are detected by testing for the
bacterium in the stool.
According to the CDC, most of those infected
with E. coli recover without antibiotics or other specific
treatment. Anti-diarrheal agents should be
The most serious health effect caused by a
Norovirus illness is dehydration, according to the
Department of Health and Human Services Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention Web site. Smith
said those ill with Norovirus should be sure to drink
plenty of fluids, frequently wash their hands and
stay at home while ill, especially food service and
health care workers.
Noroviruses are extremely contagious and found
in the stool or vomit of infected people and people
can become infected with the virus in several ways,
including eating food or drinking liquids that are
contaminated with Norovirus, touching surfaces or
objects contaminated with the virus and then placing
their hand in their mouth, and having direct
contact with another person who is infected and
There is no anti-viral medication that works
against Norovirus and there is no vaccine to prevent
For more information or to report a suspected
case of E. coli infection or Norovirus call the Hill
County Health Department at 265-5481 ext. 266.