Today it is being reported that number confirmed ill as part of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in Tennessee and Virginia has risen to 18.  According to the article in

Officials with the Virginia Department of Health have found some “similarities” between a potentially fatal strain of Escherichia coli bacteria that’s sickened Western Virginia residents over the past six weeks and one that’s affected people in Northeast Tennessee. Meanwhile, the number of total cases has risen to 18. 

“We are seeing some similarities in the strains from Virginia and Tennessee,” VDH spokesman Robert Parker said in an e-mail to the Bristol Herald Courier. “But nothing to link them in terms of transmission … no common source has been identified.”

Sadly, one of those infected with the deadly E. coli pathogen was a young 2 year old girl from Dryden, Virginia, who died as a result.

She and her brother were exhibiting symptoms common to a severe E. coli infection, according to a report from the Washington County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office.

The girl died at the hospital, according to the report, while her brother was rushed to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. He has since been released and is back at home in Lee County.

Immediately after the girl’s death, Parker issued a statement announcing that his department confirmed an E. coli infection had sickened two children from Southwest Virginia who were related to each other.

Lab results showed they were infected by E. coli O157:H7, which is the most common STEC strain in the U.S., and responsible for almost half of the illnesses caused by E. coli infections each year.

Parker said the bacteria responsible for three other infections from Western Virginia had the same DNA fingerprint as the bacteria that sickened the two children from Dryden.

Citing privacy reasons, the health department spokesman refused to provide much more information about these three other victims other than saying they lived in the state’s Western district – a 49-locality region that stretches from Waynesboro and Danville to the state’s western tip.

He also said the people started getting sick between May 8 and June 2, a four-week period that coincides with the timeline for what Northeast Tennessee health officials are labeling a potential E. coli outbreak that has so far sickened 13 people in their part of the state.