An E coli outbreak that claimed the life of a Louisiana toddler this week includes cases in multiple states including Georgia and Louisiana, state health department officials told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. A 21-month-old girl was one of three people in Louisiana to be sickened by the pathogen. She was the only fatality. In Georgia, there are five confirmed cases: two in Cobb county and one each in Cherokee, Coweta, and Forsyth counties. One person was hospitalized and released. Investigations in several states are ongoing, but health officials in Louisiana and Georgia say lab tests confirm the pathogen strain in each case is a genetic match.
A source of the deadly E coli outbreak has not yet been identified, but state health officials are working collaboratively and in conjunction with the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The last multi-state E.coli 0145 outbreak was in May 2010, according to the CDC. There were 26 confirmed and seven probable cases in that outbreak, caused by tainted lettuce. Almost 40 percent of those sickened, were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a serious condition that leads to kidney failure.
Symptoms of E.coli infection include severe abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea. If symptoms persist, HUS, the leading cause of kidney failure in children in the U.S., can develop quickly. Health officials urge anyone with these symptoms to see a health care provider.