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Hardin County Health Officials Looking for Link to E. Coli Infection in 5 Kentucky Children

Four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering an apparent E. coli infection. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown. 

The first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause. 

"We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified," said Keown.

The five children sickened with hemolytic uremic syndrome range in age from 18 months to six years. 

Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties. 

It's possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that's not likely. 

"We normally see in the Lincoln Trail area, we see between 10 and 25 cases a year. In Kentucky, roughly 80 to 100 a year since 2008.  But, it is unusual for us to see them in clusters like this, this many children at one time."

Keown says E coli can be prevented by properly cooking ground beef, thoroughly washing produce, avoiding swallowing lake or pool water, and washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.

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