Five children, the youngest being only 18 months old and the eldest only 6 years old, have all become sick from E. coli, compelling local and state health officials in Kentucky to begin an investigation into a possible outbreak. The cases come from Boone, Oldham, and Hardin counties – with Hardin county accounting for three of the cases. According to pediatrician Dr. Marquita Ball’s office, two of the victims were a brother and a sister from Elizabethtown, Kentucky. Dr. Ball noted that the patients had suffered from bloody diarrhea, a sign of E. coli infection, and that because E. coli can damage red blood cells and Kidneys, and even cause a serious condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, he transferred the two to Kosair Children’s Hospital for further treatment.

As of now, the source remains elusive, according to Sara Jo Best, the public health director for the Lincoln Trail District Health Department in Hardin County, who stated that the county was engaged in a trace-back investigation. These efforts, explained Dr. Ball, are difficult when there are only six cases, and more cases would probably enable investigators to more readily pinpoint the source. Dr. Ball also warned that the source may not be found, especially since if it was something the children ate, that product is now gone – a point confirmed by E. coli lawyer Ron Simon, who has represented thousands of victims of food poisoning.

According to Gwenda Bond, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, another case has been identified in Nelson County, but had not yet been linked to this outbreak. Health officials hope to have an answer as to whether that case is linked by later today.