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Almost 70 Marine recruits have been hospitalized in an E. coli outbreak at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) San Diego and Camp Pendleton, according to numerous news sources.

Among the cases were 14 that have been diagnosed since Thursday, according to MCRD public affairs. Nine of those 14 patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious ailment that can lead to life-threatening kidney failure.

69 Marines have been hospitalized in an outbreak of E. coli illnesses in San Diego, CA.Most of the affected personnel are being cared for at military medical facilities, but 17 recruits have been admitted to an off-base hospital.

On Monday, base officials said about 300 cases of intestinal ailments were reported at the two San Diego-area installations. The cause or causes are unknown but are being investigated.

“We remain dedicated to supporting the recruits and families most affected, and (to) preparing recruits to return to training,” said Brig. Gen. William Jurney, commanding general of MCRD San Diego and the Western Recruiting Region.

What is E. coli?

E. coli (Escherichia coli) is a type of bacteria that normally lives in the intestines. It is one of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses, and is usually contracted by eating contaminated food. Symptoms generally include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • severe abdominal cramping
  • diarrhea, which can be bloody
  • fever
  • fatigue
  • loss of appetite
  • decreased urination.

How serious is HUS?

Anyone can become infected by eating food contaminated with E. coli bacteria, but people with the highest risk of developing HUS include young children, the elderly, and people with suppressed immune systems.

As much as 10 percent of those infected with an E. coli illness develop HUS, which can be life-threatening. HUS typically develops after a long bout with E. coli-produced diarrhea. The disease damages red blood cells, which can clog the kidney’s filtering abilities, thus resulting in kidney failure. In severe cases, a kidney transplant might be necessary to avoid death.