According to reporter Steven Elbow of The Capital Times, health officials from State and Green counties in Wisconsin are investigating an E. coli outbreak that has claimed the life of a 1-year-old girl and has sickened several others.

Elbow wrote:

“The Wisconsin Division of Public Health and our department here in Green County are investigating a cluster of nine confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections,” said RoAnn Warden, director of the Green County Health Department.

All of those sickened are from Green County, although Warden said they have been geographically spread out, with some in the outlying portions of the county. Some households have had multiple cases.

Sources have told The Cap Times that a 20-month-old girl from Green County died Sunday at UW Children’s Hospital in Madison after being admitted about a week earlier.

While Warden said she can’t talk about the case because of medical confidentiality laws, she said two patients have been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication stemming from E. coli infection that causes kidney disease.

Warden said the outbreak started in mid-August, and the last case occurred in early September, about a week ago. “We have not identified a common course of exposure,” she said.

Post-diarrheal hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a severe, life-threatening complication that occurs in about 10 percent of those infected with E. coli O157:H7 or other Shiga toxin producing E. coli. It is now recognized as the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children.  Adolescents and adults are also susceptible, as are the elderly, who often succumb to the disease.

  • Helen Capellaro

    As a Green County resident, I am incensed that officials are not releasing information on potential causes of the contamination. Who are they protecting? Should I avoid certain restaurants, is there a water problem. Is there something in the soil we should avoid?
    The medical information confidentiality is a poorly fitting fig leaf for this problem. It does not fit the situation.
    For heaven sakes, someone died of this…it is important that people know what was going on. If you “suspect” a source, isn’t it better to say it than to wait until someone else succumbs. Public officials have duties to the public. Duh.
    Reporters, get digging?

  • Doc Mudd

    This is shaping up to be a worthy example of a “local” outbreak…and exemplary of just how difficult those can be to track down epidemiologically.
    Moral of this story? Well, there are several, actually…
    * Local outbreaks of food poisoning do occur
    * Local outbreaks of food poisoning can be deadly
    * Local outbreaks of food poisoning can be elusive
    * Local outbreaks of food poisoning do concern local residents
    * Locovores’ denial of all of the above should be challenged
    * Local laws exempting local food purveyors should be scrutinized in the bright light of reality
    Oh well, just another day at the office for some county health department investigator somewhere. Stuck tracking down the ‘unimportant’ little local outbreaks with deliberately too few clues (thank you Congressman Tester!) while the State and Federal guys get all the fame and glory for working cases with modern FSMA-style documentation.