June 19, 2024

E. coli O157 Outbreak in Tennessee Updated by Knox County Health Department; Lawsuits May Be Filed

The E. coli O157 outbreak in Tennessee associated with raw milk and contact with farm animals has been updated by the Knox County Health Department. The media release states, “To date, more than 10 cases of E. coli O157 have been reported to KCHD all are among young children. No new E. coli cases were reported over the weekend. However the incubation period for E. coli is two to 10 days.” At least four of those children have been hospitalized; all have hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure.

E. coli O157 Outbreak Knox County TN

The common link among most of the sick children in this E. coli O157 outbreak  is raw milk from French Broad Farm, a local cow-share dairy in Knox County. Public health officials are advising the public not to consume raw ilk or any other unpasteurized products they may have from that facility. The farm suspended distribution of its products last week.

Officials have taken manure and milk samples from the farm for testing. They do not know when results will come back.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients sickened with E coli O157 infections and HUS, said, “Even when a patient recovers from this infection, there is still a risk they will develop a serious complication in the future. Many of these patients need dialysis and even kidney transplants.” Call 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202 to talk to Fred.

We asked Fred Pritzker, a food safety attorney who has represented many clients sickened with E. coli infections and HUS, about this outbreak. He said, “Seeing young children sick with this infection is terrible. Their families are in distress and worried. This is a dangerous pathogen, and unfortunately, children under the age of five are most likely to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, when they contract this infection.”

The remaining patients have a link as well; attendance at a child care facility, Kids Place Inc. Officials have been investigating that connection, and they found that exposure, both direct and indirect, to ruminant farm animals has been identified as a potential source in this E. coli O157 outbreak.

All of the cases associated with Kids Place Inc. are among an age group that was in the Baby House, which is a separate area of the facility. The media release states, “By taking several infection control steps, the imminent health threat has been mitigated.” Environmental samples have been collected from the daycare and animals for testing.

Food Poisoning Bulletin asked Kathleen Killen, Community Relations Director of the Knox County Health Department, if these illnesses are two separate outbreaks or just one outbreak. She said, “They may be unrelated, but we don’t know that yet. The investigation is ongoing.”

The media release states, “While it would be rare, it’s possible that our community is experiencing two unrelated E. coli clusters at the same time. The investigation is ongoing.”

The main symptom of an E. coli infection is watery and bloody diarrhea, accompanied by very painful and severe abdominal and stomach cramps. The symptoms of HUS include little urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, pale skin, and a skin rash. Anyone with these symptoms needs to see a doctor immediately.


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