About 85 Marines-in-training remained ill Thursday with apparent E. coli-related symptoms at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Camp Pendleton amid a week-old outbreak of diarrheal illnesses at the military installations, authorities reported.
Among the medical cases were 19 new ones diagnosed since Tuesday, according to MCRD public affairs. In all, 16 recruits were receiving treatment at an off-base hospital, with the remainder being cared for at military medical facilities.
Base officials initially announced a total of about 300 cases of intestinal ailments at the two San Diego-area installations on Monday. That tally was down to roughly 215 a day later. The cause or causes of the debilitating bacterial exposure remain under investigation.
“The command is continuing to take precautionary measures and care for those who are affected,” said Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general of MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region.
USMC officials have announced the following preventive actions in response to the infections:
— Forwarding of samples and specimens for testing to the U.S. Army Public Health Command at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, to determine the cause of the illnesses;
— Continued inspection of all meal-preparation and service facilities at the affected facilities for cleanliness, proper food storage and sanitary handling procedures;
— Altered menu options for infected personnel to better facilitate maintenance of healthy diet and recovery;
— Separation and treatment protocols isolating recruits with symptoms and limiting interaction with those who are unaffected;
— Increased hygiene requirements, focusing particularly on hand washing;
— Enhanced cleaning to ensure proper hygiene in all areas;
— Increased inspections of barracks, cafeterias and common areas by the Naval Medical Center San Diego Preventative Medicine Unit; and
— Dissemination of guidance on identifying symptoms to allow for proactive and prompt treatment for potential patients.
More than 500 new Marines are scheduled to graduate from recruit training on Friday. Those who have exhibited symptoms of E. coli illness, however, will remain on base temporarily for continued observation, according to Marine Corps officials.
Family members will be contacted if a recruit is hospitalized, has a rescheduled graduation date or has to undergo further observation, and every effort will be made to allow personnel to complete missed training with their original units in order to remain on track for their planned graduation date, authorities said.
–City News Service