Two more cases added today and 1 state.  Indiana may have a case too.

According to the Kentucky Department of Health and press reports, an E. coli outbreak in Kentucky has now doubled to more than 40 cases. The department confirmed Thursday that Kentucky now has at least 46 cases involving a strain of E. coli O103.

The department issued a news release last Friday, saying that 20 Kentuckians had tested positive for a Shiga-toxin producing strain that can lead to kidney failure. The number of known hospitalizations remains at six.

Some two dozen counties, including Shelby and Fayette, have reported cases in this outbreak, according to the department. Many of the initial patients were in central Kentucky but there also have been cases in northern, eastern and western Kentucky.

Cases also have been identified in Tennessee, Georgia, Ohio and Virginia, according to the department. A representative of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had no immediate information to convey Thursday.

The specific source of the outbreak is still being investigated, but a food source is suspected based on the interview responses of affected individuals, according to the department.

“Exposure to E. coli bacteria can be debilitating and potentially life-threatening, especially for small children and individuals with weakened immune systems,” Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Jeffrey Howard said last week. “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.”

Also, health care providers across the state “have been alerted to this potential threat and are working with us to make sure patients are identified and are receiving appropriate care,” he said. “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.”

People generally become ill two to five days after consuming tainted food, according to the department. Symptoms of infection include stomach cramps and diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody.

It’s also possible to develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The condition requires hospitalization because the kidneys may stop working, according to the CDC.

“Clues that a person is developing HUS include decreased frequency of urination, feeling very tired and losing pink color in cheeks and inside the lower eyelids,” the CDC notes. “Most persons with HUS recover within a few weeks, but some suffer permanent damage or die.”

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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