Kentucky is also investigation 20 additional cases.  Cases also found in Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia

According to WEKU, cases of E. coli O103 in Kentucky more than doubled since Friday as health officials continue to investigate the source of the outbreak. There were 20 cases reported as of Friday afternoon and the number has risen to 44 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to state health officials. So far six people have been hospitalized.

Dr. Mel Bennett heads the state’s infectious disease efforts. Dr. Bennett said the outbreak has spread to Tennessee, Ohio, and Georgia. State health officials are in daily contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doug Hogan, spokesperson for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, said cases are spread across several counties. Five cases have been confirmed in Fayette County.  Apparently there may also be a case in Indiana.

Some sort of food distribution service may be the root cause. But, he said, it is not unheard of for a source to remain unconfirmed. Dr. Bennett said some early reports indicated fast food as a primary source of concern. But, he said, that has been narrowed down to beef, chicken and sliced American cheese. There are currently 20 additional cases yet to be confirmed within Kentucky.

“Exposure to E. coli bacteria can be debilitating and potentially life-threatening, especially for small children and individuals with weakened immune systems. With this in mind, the Department for Public Health has taken swift action to identify patients, ensure appropriate testing, and follow up care as we work to determine the source of the outbreak,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jeff Howard. “Healthcare providers across Kentucky have been alerted to this potential threat and are working with us to make sure patients are identified and are receiving appropriate care. Meanwhile, we encourage all Kentuckians to be aware of the signs and symptoms of E. coli illness and to seek care if they are ill.”

Symptoms of E. coli O103 illness typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, including bloody diarrhea, and people generally become ill two to five days after consuming contaminated food. E. coli O103 disease sometimes leads to hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure and can occur a week or more after the onset of diarrhea. Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli infection include the very young, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems State health officials are working with staff at local health departments in the counties with suspected or confirmed cases to determine the source of the infections.

Outbreaks of E. coli O103 are rare.  From the CDC NORS dataset:

Year State Transmission Serotype Setting Illnesses
2000 Washington Food O103 Caterer (food prepared off-site from where served); Other 18
2010 Minnesota Food O103:H2; O145:NM School/college/university 29
2011 Wisconsin Animal Contact O103; O157:H7 6
2013 Minnesota Person-to-person O103 Child day care 3
2013 Pennsylvania Indeterminate O103:H2 Private home/residence 2
2014 Ohio Indeterminate O103 Child day care 3
2014 Multistate Food O103:H2 Restaurant – other or unknown type 12
2014 Ohio Indeterminate O103; O157:H7; O146:H21 Private home/residence 4
2015 Multistate Food O103 Restaurant – other or unknown type 4
2015 Ohio Person-to-person O103 School/college/university 6
2015 Multistate Food O103 Restaurant – other or unknown type 6
2015 Kansas Person-to-person O103 Child day care 12
2015 North Carolina Person-to-person O103 Child day care 20
2015 Virginia Person-to-person O103:H2 Prison/jail 4
2015 Ohio Indeterminate O103 Child day care 5
2016 Ohio Indeterminate O103 Other, specify 7
2017 Ohio Person-to-person O103 Child day care 4
2017 Oregon Food O103 Other 13


Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $650 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne KinerStephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

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