June 15, 2024

Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee Hardest Hit in Ground Beef E. coli O103 Outbreak

The states that have been the hardest hit in the ground beef E. coli O103 outbreak are Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Those states combined have 173 of the 196 people sickened in this outbreak.

Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee Hardest Hit in Ground Beef E. coli O103 Outbreak

The outbreak does seem to be slowing down, according to the epidemiological Date of Illness Onset chart. Most cases were diagnosed in mid-March 2019, and have trailed off since then. But even though two companies have recalled raw ground beef products, the outbreak continues to grow. According to the epi chart, there could be as many as 50 more cases in this outbreak before it ends. States are investigating more illnesses that may be part of this outbreak.

This outbreak actually begin in Kentucky, when public health officials there noticed a spike in E. coli cases. At first, investigators thought that the outbreak was related to fast food consumption. But as the investigation proceeded and more and more cases were diagnosed, they found that ground beef was the culprit.

Twenty-eight people have been hospitalized in this outbreak. Until this latest update, no one had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is a complication of a Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infection. In the latest update, the CDC stated that two people have developed this complication.

One of the ground beef products that has been recalled, which was packed by Grant Park Packing, was sold to institutions only; that is, it was likely sold in restaurants. And indeed, people sickened in this outbreak have told investigators that they ate ground beef at home and in restaurants before they got sick. Many of the patients bought large trays or chubs of raw ground beef from grocery stores. K2D Foods recalled their raw ground beef products in April 2019.

Still, no supplier, distributor, or brand of ground beef has been traced that would account for all of the illnesses in this outbreak. The CDC and state partners are conducting traceback investigations to try to pinpoint where the contaminated beef came from.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe and painful stomach and abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that is watery and/or bloody. If you have been experiencing these symptoms, there are a few things you should do. First, talk to your healthcare provider and ask to be tested. Write down what you ate the week before you got sick. Report your illness to the health department in your state. And think about answering questions posed by public health investigators.

Pritzker Hageman, America’s food safety law firm, successfully represents people harmed by adulterated food products in outbreaks throughout the United States. Its lawyers have won hundreds of millions of dollars for survivors of foodborne illness in lawsuits, including some of the largest verdicts and settlements in American history. The firm’s 2016 trial victory on behalf of a child with E. coli food poisoning and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is the biggest recovery of its kind.  Pritzker Hageman lawyers are regularly interviewed by major news outlets including the New York Times, CNN, and the Wall Street Journal.

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