August 1, 2014

Kentucky E.coli Outbreak Over, Officials Say

An E.coli outbreak in Kentucky that sickened three Kindergarteners, two of whom remain hospitalized, is over, heath officials have declared.

“At his point, the investigation into the outbreak has ended,” Beth Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky Center For Health and Family Services (KCHFS) told Food Poisoning Bulletin this morning.

All three children attend school at Stanford Elementary in Lincoln County, where results of environmental and food sample tests this week were negative for E.coli. A source for the outbreak has not been determined, but the school has been ruled out as the origin of the outbreak, Fisher said. With classes ending next week and no new cases reported, health officials say the outbreak is over.

Symptoms of an E.coli infection include abdominal cramping and diarrhea, which is often bloody.  When dehydration is severe, hospitalization is sometimes required. In some cases, small children who contract E.coli infections can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure, stroke or coma.

E. coli is transmitted through food or water that has been contaminated with human or animal feces. Person-to-person transmission, can also occur, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Good handwashing is the best way to prevent person-to-person transmission.

To reduce the risk of foodborne transmission, the CDC recommends: cooking meat to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, avoiding unpasteurized food and drinks and preventing cross-contamination by thoroughly washing food preparation areas after working with raw meat or vegetables.

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