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:
|2000||Washington||Food||O103||Caterer (food prepared off-site from where served); Other||18|
|2011||Wisconsin||Animal Contact||O103; O157:H7||6|
|2013||Minnesota||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||3|
|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||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||Ohio||Indeterminate||O103||Child day care||5|
|2017||Ohio||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||4|
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