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Hundreds of recruits attending boot camp get E. coli, more cases reported daily

MCRD San Diego
Photo: Marine Corps

SAN DIEGO — More than 300 recruits at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot have experienced symptoms associated with exposure to E. coli bacteria within the last five days, military officials said.

The symptoms, including diarrhea and vomiting, were first seen in individual cases over the weekend, but when recruits in groups of 30 or more became sick starting Monday, officials at the depot began looking for a cause, said Steve Posy, an MCRD spokesman.

E. coli is transmitted through consumption of contaminated foods.

“Yesterday we were at 302, today we’re at 214, with at least 26 new cases,” Posy said Tuesday. “We’re still investigating the source but have been able to pin it down to two locations and have isolated it to recruits only.”

Eighty-six recruits were being treated as of Thursday, Posy said.

Officials believe exposure originated either at the recruit depot or at Edson Range on Camp Pendleton.

“The command’s effort is focused on caring for those recruits who are affected, ensuring we limit any spread of the illness, and identifying the source of the infection,” said Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general, MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region.

Preventative medicine units at Naval Medical Center San Diego and Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton are inspecting all mess halls for cleanliness, food storage, and handling procedures. Food samples are being tested at the U.S. Army Public Health Command at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.

Family members will be contacted by the command if a recruit is hospitalized or his graduation date changes due to missed training resulting from sickness, Posy said.

There are about 5,500 recruits in the 13-week basic training at the depot.
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