May 29, 2024

E. coli O103 Outbreak Sickens 72 in 5 States; 8 Hospitalized

The E. coli O103 outbreak that started in Kentucky last week, with 20 sick, has exploded into an outbreak that has sickened at least 72 people in 5 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those illnesses are confirmed. Eight people have been hospitalized.

Barbara Fox, Public Information Officer with the Cabinet for Health and Family Affairs in Kentucky, told Food Poisoning Bulletin that 46 are sick in Kentucky, with 6 hospitalized. No source, such as a restaurant or grocery store, and no food, such as ground beef, lettuce, or sprouts, has been named yet.

E. coli O103 outbreak Sickens 72 4519


In addition, no patients have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a complication of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infection that can cause kidney failure. That complication mostly affects children under the age of 5.

The case count by state is: Georgia (8), Kentucky (36) (or 46), Ohio (5), Tennessee (21) and Virginia (2). The patients range in age from 1 to 74 years, with a median age of 17. Fifty-five percent are female. Of 47 people who have been interviewed so far, 8, or 17%, have been hospitalized. The illness onset dates in this E. coli O103 outbreak are March 2, 2019 to March 29, 2019.

The CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food at this time. That may change as the investigation into this E. coli O103 outbreak proceeds.

Public health officials are using the PulseNet system to find people who may be part of this outbreak. Samples submitted to PulseNet undergo pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) to identify the bacteria’s DNA. WGS performed on E. coli taken from people who are sick in this outbreak shows that they are closely related genetically. That means that the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “This outbreak has exploded in just one week. We hope that investigators can isolate the source soon, so the outbreak can be slowed down and ended.”

The symptoms of an E. coli infection typically include severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is bloody and watery. Some patients may have a mild fever. The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) include little urine output, fatigue, lethargy, pale skin, and easy bruising. If you or anyone you know has been suffering from these symptoms, they should see a doctor as soon as possible. You may be part of this E. coli O103 outbreak.

The law firm of Pritzker Hageman helps people sickened by contaminated food  protect their legal rights, and get compensation and justice. Our lawyers represent patients and the families of children sickened with bacterial infections in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits against retailers, food producers, food processors, restaurants, fast food outlets, schools, and others. Attorney Fred Pritzker and his team recently won $7.5 million for young client whose kidneys failed because of hemolytic uremic syndrome after an E. coli infection. Class action lawsuits may not be appropriate for outbreak victims because the cases are so very unique.

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