E. coli link between Port Townsend, other locales investigated


Peninsula Daily News

Source of Article: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20080916/NEWS/809160308

OLYMPIA State officials have confirmed they are working on finding a link between common strands of identified E. coli bacteria cases in Washington and Oregon.

But they are not calling it an outbreak.

"We are in the process of conducting a cluster investigation," said Kathryn MacDonald, food-borne illness specialist for Washington State Department of Health.

"We can't say how many cases are connected right now, but that's what were trying to figure out.

"We know we do have other cases that are connected, but right now but at this point we don't think there is an outbreak."

MacDonald said the E. coli strand found in a case in Jefferson County recently matched other cases near Seattle and Portland, Ore.

Erik Hidle, 23, a reporter for the Peninsula Daily News, was admitted to Jefferson Healthcare hospital with extreme abdominal pain on Sept. 3.

It was later discovered that he was ill with E. coli 0157:H7, a strand which causes severe illness.

Interviews conducted
Both states are conducting interviews with those who were infected with the illness in an attempt to find a common denominator.

"The DNA in some of the cases is the same," MacDonald said.

"If there is a common thread or not, we don't know.

"Sometimes they lead to identifying a certain product, sometimes they don't, some you can't find a common thread and then it just goes away."

MacDonald said the E. coli strand being investigated is fairly common and has been seen in the state before.

MacDonald also said she didn't believe the situation was out of the ordinary.

"We usually see an increase in cases during the summer, with them most prevalent in August," she said.

"We have upwards of as many as 200 E. coli cases a year in the state so it is not uncommon what we see right now."



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