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WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH EXPANDS CONSUMER ASSISTANCE LINE FOR PUBLIC INQUIRIES ON E. COLI INFECTION

 OLYMPIA, Wash., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- The Washington State Department of Health today expanded its statewide toll-free Consumer Assistance Line to handle public inquiries on infection of the E. coli 0157:H7 bacterium.
 Beginning today, Washington residents may call 800-525-0127 24 hours a day for information on the bacterium, which has caused the deaths of two children in Washington and made nearly 300 people ill. Department of Health staff will be answering inquiries on E. coli and other health-related subjects between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Off hours, the latest taped update will be available.
 Out-of-state residents may call the Consumer Assistance Line at 206-664-9599.
 "We want to be accessible to the public to provide information to help people be better informed about this disease, and what people can do to prevent it," said State Health Officer Mimi L. Fields, M.D., M.P.H. "It is crucial to educate the public to help prevent secondary transmission."
 Secondary or secondhand transmission of E. coli 0157:H7 can be prevented by washing hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, or before preparing food. State health officials have confirmed six cases of secondary transmission since the outbreak was announced Jan. 17.
 Children confirmed to be infected with the bacterium should not return to daycare programs before receiving two confirmed negative stool cultures from their physicians. Infected adults who work in daycare programs, food service establishments, or in jobs involving sick or frail people, also should not return to work before receiving two negative stool cultures.
 In addition, employees of daycare programs and parents of young children should wash their hands thoroughly after changing diapers to prevent the spread of the bacterium.
 "Doctors, nurses and other health professionals are working very hard to arrest this outbreak. If each of us takes extra care and precaution with our personal hygiene, we will stop this outbreak and help prevent future outbreaks," Fields said.
 -0- 1/29/93
 /CONTACT: Dean R. Owen, 206-753-3934, or pager, 206-786-2264, or Mimi Nickerson-Johns, 206-753-3237, both of the Washington State Department of Health/


CO: Washington State Department of Health ST: Washington IN: HEA SU:

LM-SW -- SE006 -- 0887 01/29/93 15:53 EST
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Date:Jan 29, 1993
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