HUNTLEY, Ill. — The McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) confirmed an E.coli outbreak at Huntley High School Thursday evening.

According to the MCDH, there are currently seven confirmed cases of STEC, or Shiga Toxin-producing E.Coli, all of which involve students at the school.

The first cases was identified Sunday, and health department officials said there is insufficient evidence to indicate where the illness came from, as of Thursday evening.

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 ten days to develop. Most individuals infected with STEC feel better within 5-10 days from the onset of the illness with rest and fluids.

To prevent and stop the spread of infection, MCDH officials recommend 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.

MCDH officials also recommend avoiding swallowing water from ponds, lakes, and untreated swimming pools; as well as making sure to wash and cook foods properly, and to 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.

Huntley School District 158 officials sent a letter to parents, students and staff reiterating the situation is being taken seriously and the school is fully cooperating with the MCDH as they continue to investigate potential exposures and the source of where the outbreak came from.