November 15, 2019

Now 44 Sick in Unsolved Kentucky E. coli O103 Outbreak

At least 44 people who live in 24 Kentucky counties have lab-confirmed E. coli O103 infections, according to information from the Madison County Health Department in that state. Three of those patients live in Madison County. This information about this E. coli O103 outbreak was transmitted from the Kentucky Department of Public Health in an online meeting.

E. coli O103 Outbreak in Kentucky Ohio Tennessee Georgia

The age range of patients is from 1 to 81 years, with a median age of 18. Twenty-five patients are female, and 19 are male. Six people have been hospitalized because they are so sick. Cases have also been reported in Ohio, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Public health officials are working to solve this outbreak. What we know is that they have not identified a specific food or restaurant, but the fact that this outbreak is so widespread points to some type of food delivery outlet.

In the past, E. coli infections have been linked to everything from leafy greens to ground beef to steak to raw sprouts to raw milk. Other outbreaks have been linked to agricultural tourism and petting zoos. Some news outlets are stating that some of the foods investigators are looking at include ground beef, chicken, and American cheese, although public health officials have not confirmed.

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients in lawsuits after they have been sickened with E. coli bacteria, said, “Doctors in the affected states are being warned to look for patients who are presenting with the symptoms of E. coli infections and HUS.”

This pathogen lives in the gut of ruminant animals like cows and goats. When the animal defecates, the bacteria can contaminate everything from the animal’s hide to its environment. If some of that feces gets onto meat during processing, or into milk when the cow is milked, and that food is not heat treated, people can get sick.

E. coli infections can also be passed from person-to-person, when an infected patient doesn’t wash their hands well after using the bathroom. But because this outbreak is so widespread, this type of transmission seems unlikely.

If you or someone you know has been ill with painful abdominal cramps and severe, bloody diarrhea, see a doctor. You may be part of this E. coli O103 outbreak. Some patients may have a mild fever, and others may suffer from nausea. Symptoms usually begin 2 to 8 days after exposure to the pathogen.

 

 

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