The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) and Huntley Community School District 158 are working collaboratively to respond to a recent outbreak of Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) at Huntley High School. There are now currently nine confirmed cases of STEC, all of which involve students. The first case was identified on Sunday, September 17. At this time, there is insufficient evidence to indicate the source of the illness. The MCDH is actively monitoring for potential cases; there are no other known McHenry County STEC cases outside of this outbreak.

In a letter to parents, students, and staff, Huntley Community School District 158 officials reiterated that the situation is being taken seriously and that the safety and well-being of students and staff is of the utmost importance.

 Huntley High School officials are fully cooperating with the MCDH as they continue their investigation into potential exposures, both internally and externally, as the source of the outbreak has not yet been identified.

 Given the highly contagious nature of E. coli, students are strongly encouraged to practice frequent handwashing. In addition to this, Huntley High School science teachers have been providing students with essential information about E. coli. Furthermore, the school has taken proactive measures to ensure a safe environment, including the posting of handwashing signage throughout the school and the provision of readily accessible hand sanitizer stations in all classrooms and common areas.

 STEC is a bacterial infection known to cause gastrointestinal illness in humans. This strain of E. coli bacteria grows and lives in the intestines of people and animals. Transmission of STEC can occur due to contact with contaminated food, contaminated water, people, and animals. Symptoms and characteristics of STEC include:

  • Diarrhea (often bloody)
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramping and body aches
  • Vomiting
  • Headaches

Symptoms typically start within 3-4 days of exposure to STEC but may take up to 10 days to develop. Most individuals infected with STEC feel better within 5-10 days from the onset of the illness with rest fluids.

To prevent and stop the spread of infection, the MCDH recommends washing hands with soap and water when preparing and eating food, having contact with animals or their environment, and after bathroom use or changing a diaper; avoiding swallowing water from ponds, lakes, and untreated swimming pools; and washing and cooking foods properly and avoid unpasteurized (raw) dairy products and juices. Those infected should not handle, prepare, or cook food for others until 48 hours after symptoms have resolved.

Post Outbreak Inspection Reports:

September 18:

Onsite for inspection in regards to a complaint. Water and ice samples were obtained. Refer to RFS #3879 for further notes. Items #1-29 have been marked in compliance to document a complaint report, not all items were evaluated. A signature for a representative of the school could not be obtained due to connectivity problems within the establishment.

September 19:

Onsite in regard to a complaint. Items #1-29 have not all been evaluated and have been marked in compliance. For further notes refer to RFS complaint #3879

Item #16
Section 16 (Pf) Hot water sanitizing rinse at dish machine is less than 180°F. Repair/replace unit so that hot water rinse is maintained between 180°F to 194°F. Reference 4- 501.112.
The automatic dish machine was not registering the appropriate rinse temperature: Correct by 9/29/23 The facility can utilize the auto dish machine for washing and rinsing of equipment, etc., sanitation must take place in the 3-compartment sink.

Item #24
Section 24 (Pf) If time without temperature control is used as the public health control for a working supply of TIME/TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY FOOD before cooking, or for READY-TO-EAT TIME/TEMPERATURE CONTROL FOR SAFETY FOOD that is displayed or held for sale or service: Written procedures shall be prepared in advance, maintained in the FOOD ESTABLISHMENT and made available to the REGULATORY AUTHORITY upon request that specify: Provide a written procedure for the TCS foods that are held out of temperature control. Reference 3-501.19 (A)(1).
The facility has begun to utilize time as a public health control for the hot sub sandwiches and there is not written procedure on hand: Correct by 9/29/23.

Item #24
Section 24 (Pf) If time without temperature control is used as the public health control up to a maximum of 4 hours: The FOOD shall be marked or otherwise identified to indicate the time that is 4 hours past the point in time when the FOOD is removed from temperature control.

All TCS foods that are held under time as a public health control shall have a system of identification to indicate the time of 4 hours past the point of when the TCS foods were removed from temperature control. Reference 3-501.19 (B)(2)

The hot sub sandwiches were not marked with a discard time of 4 hours past the time it was removed from temperature control. Staff indicates that all hot sub sandwiches are purchased prior to the end of lunch service which is within the 4-hour time limit after removal. The facility is to identify the time regardless of whether items will be sold out during the 4-hour time frame or not: Correct by 9/29/23.

September 21:

Section 56 (C) Intake/exhaust air ducts (vents) with accumulation of dust. Intake and exhaust air ducts shall be cleaned and filters changed so they are not a source of contamination by dust, dirt, and other materials. Reference 6-501.14.

Observed the vent covers over the file cabinet area and in the dry storage area soiled with dust. Correct by next routine inspection.

E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $850 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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