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Foodborne illness lawyer Elliot Olsen has regained millions for clients during his 30-year career. If you or a family member were sickened by E. coli in this mystery outbreak, you might qualify for a foodborne illness lawsuit. Please call (612) 337-6126 for a free consultation.

Less than a week after declaring this the first E. coli outbreak of 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the mystery outbreak had grown to 96 illnesses in five states, with 11 victims hospitalized.

The CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and multiple state health organizations continue to investigate the five-state outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (E. coli) infections.

A specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the outbreak source, and the CDC is not recommending that consumers avoid any particular food. Consumers, however, are being urged to contact their local health department if they believe they were sickened by E. coli.

Mystery outbreak grows: 96 ill, 11 hospitalized

The CDC reported that the mystery outbreak of E. coli illnesses has grown to 96 cases in five states, with 11 victims requiring hospitalization.

Mystery outbreak:
Started in Kentucky

The outbreak first made headlines at the end of March when the Kentucky Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that at least 20 people – mostly children and teenagers from central Kentucky – had become ill. Less than a week later, the Kentucky outbreak had increased to 46 illnesses.

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokesperson Barbara Fox said at that time that six people had been hospitalized. She also noted that cases had been reported across the entire state.

Mystery outbreak:
By the numbers

Kentucky has been hit the hardest of the five states affected, with 46 of the 96 illnesses. Tennessee has reported 26 illnesses, followed by Georgia with 17, Ohio with 5, and Virginia with 2.

The CDC says that illnesses first started being reported between March 2 and March 26, and those who have been sickened range in age from 1 to 81, with a median age of 17. Fifty-one percent (49) of the victims are female.

Thankfully, no cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) – a dangerous type of kidney disease – have been reported.

Mystery outbreak:
More on HUS

About 10 percent of people who become infected with E. coli will develop HUS. The majority of those cases involve children under the age of 5. As a matter of fact, HUS is the leading cause of acute kidney failure for that age group.

HUS generally develops when diarrhea persists for a week or longer. When that happens, red blood cells can become damaged and clog the kidneys’ filtering system. In the most serious cases of HUS, a kidney transplant might be required.

Mystery outbreak:
Symptoms of E. coli

When someone contracts E. coli, their symptoms are similar to the symptoms of other types of food poisoning. Those symptoms can include:

  • nausea
  • abdominal cramps
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea, which can turn bloody
  • fever
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • no appetite
  • decreased urination.

Anyone can become sick from E. coli, but those with the highest risk of developing HUS include young children, senior citizens, pregnant women, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

Mystery outbreak:
Tips to avoid E. coli

To avoid contracting E. coli, the CDC offers up these recommendations:

  • Wash your hands after using the restroom or changing diapers, before and after preparing or eating food, and after coming into contact with animals.
  • Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef,  pork, and lamb should be cooked to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Steaks and roasts should be at least 145 degrees, and then they should rest for three minutes after being removed from the grill or stove. Use a food thermometer to check the meat’s temperature.
  • Keep raw meats separate from foods that won’t be cooked. Wash hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils thoroughly with soap after they touch raw meat.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating, unless the package says they’ve been washed.
  • Avoid raw milk or other unpasteurized products, including dairy and juices.
  • Don’t prepare food or drinks for others when you are sick.

Free consultation

Elliot Olsen has decades of experience representing people harmed by food poisoning. You can contact him for a free consultation by filling out the following form and submitting it: