The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced on Friday that 20 Kentuckians have tested positive with a strain of E. coli O103.
Public health investigators have not yet identified the source of the outbreak, but have noted that some sort of food distribution is a likely mechanism for this outbreak among many of the individuals afflicted by the sometimes life-threatening bacteria.
The reported cases involve a number of children as well as adults, many of whom reside in central Kentucky. No deaths linked to the outbreak have been reported but six people have been hospitalized.
Healthcare providers across the state have been notified of the outbreak and are advised to be alert for patients experiencing acute diarrheal illness, which could be associated with E. coli. Appropriate testing and investigative work will need to be completed to determine which cases are outbreak-associated. This is a particular strain of E. coli that produces a type of toxin (Shiga toxin) that can be dangerous for those infected.
“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.
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 Kiner, Stephanie 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.