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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

13 with E. coli in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia – some with non-O157?

According to reporter, Mac Mclean, a confirmed case of E. coli reported by the Sullivan County Regional Health Department on Wednesday is the latest in a possible outbreak of bacterial infections that have so far sickened 11 Northeast Tennessee residents this month and killed a young girl from Southwest Virginia.

Screen shot 2011-06-09 at 3.12.11 PM.pngAccording to the Washington County, Tenn., Sheriff’s Office, a 2-year-old girl from Dryden, Va., was rushed to Johnson City Medical Center’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on Sunday. The girl died at the hospital, while her 4-year-old brother, who was suffering from similar symptoms, was rushed to another East Tennessee hospital for continued treatment. On Monday, the Virginia Health Department confirmed the presence of E. coli O157:H7 in the two children.

“That investigation is continuing as we speak,” Department spokesman Bobby Parker said when asked how the children were infected. “There are lots of ways it could have been transferred. I just don’t know.”

Parker’s confirmation of an E. coli O157:H7 infection came just one day before Kirshke and other health officials from the Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Office announced that preliminary test results showed 10 people living in four of the seven counties it serves have had an E. coli infection since June 1. Kirshke said his office’s initial test results suggested E. coli O157:H7 may have infected two of the Northeast Tennessee residents who got sick. Seven of the residents appear to have been infected by a less severe strain, he said, while the test results did not provide any information about what strain infected the 10th victim. No details were available Wednesday on the latest case in Sullivan County, but a release from the Health Department said Sullivan officials are working closely with Northeast Tennessee health officials to determine the cause of the infection.

However, the Sullivan County Regional Health Department’s website noted:

The source of the bacteria in these cases has not been identified and our staff is working closely with the Northeast Regional Health Office in Johnson City to investigate the source of illness.

PLEASE NOTE – The cases in our region ARE NOT related to the outbreak in Germany and ARE NOT E. coli O157:H7.

Hopefully, a confirmation of the serotype for all victims will be forthcoming.