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PNS Daily Newscast - April 19, 2019 


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Rare Strain of E.coli Outbreak in KY, 46 Cases Confirmed

A rare strain of E.coli infections in Kentucky has infected dozens of people, and public health officials expect more cases. (@manjurulhaque/Twenty20)
A rare strain of E.coli infections in Kentucky has infected dozens of people, and public health officials expect more cases. (@manjurulhaque/Twenty20)
April 9, 2019

FRANKFORT, Ky. — At least 46 people in the Commonwealth have been diagnosed with E.coli, and six of the infected have been hospitalized, according to the Kentucky Department of Public Health.

State epidemiologist Doug Thoroughman said the strain of E.coli is called O103, and is rarely found in the United States. He said public health officials have documented cases from many parts of the state, indicating the source of infections likely originated from a widely distributed food product. However, he said, pinpointing the infection source isn't easy.

"Because it takes a lot of effort to interview every single case, get all of their food history from a couple weeks ago, for a couple weeks before their symptoms started, and then to look at all those and delineate what is common among those,” Thoroughman said. “And, of course, there's a lot of commonalities; a lot of people eat the same kinds of things in our society."

People typically become sick from E.coli two to five days after being infected. Symptoms include diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should see their doctor. Young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing complications from E.coli infection.

Thoroughman said Department of Health officials are piecing together the puzzle by comparing cases.

"The interesting part of this outbreak is that about half of the cases are kids, or teenagers under 18,” he said. “And we have many reports that a lot of these kids are very picky eaters, so they don't tend to eat fruits and vegetables that much, so it kind of limits the romaine lettuce or the asparagus or other kinds of risk factors that might be vegetables."

Dozens of E.coli infections also have been confirmed in Tennessee, Ohio and Georgia, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced it's launching an investigation.

Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service - KY