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Lafayette County confirms case of E. coli in statewide outbreak

LAFAYETTE COUNTY (WKOW) — The Lafayette County Health Department late this afternoon confirmed that one person has been infected with E. coli earlier this month.

Officials there say the case was confirmed on Nov. 11, two days before the Wisconsin Department of Health Services began tracking the outbreak.

State health officials say more than 20 people in Wisconsin have been infected with E. coli., with one person developing hemolytic uremic syndrome, a severe form of acute kidney failure.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has been tracking the outbreak since Nov. 13, but the source remains a mystery.

A food poisoning attorney based in Houston says he’s concerned about the strain found here in Wisconsin. The Lange Law Firm says three of the Wisconsin cases involve children.

“There’s different theories about what the source might be, but no one really knows. And that, from our perspective, is the really concerning thing because that means that there’s a food product out there that’s giving people E. coli. It’s making them sick, sending them to the hospital and we don’t know what that is,” Jory Lange told 27 News.

Lange says an infectious disease doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, Dr. Larry Lutwick, has seen three cases of E. coli recently.  Lutwick believes at least two of those cases may have come from contaminated lettuce.

Lange Law Firm is leading 140 lawsuits across the nation right now, including one connected to salad ingredients in Maryland.

“One of the things we’re wondering is, are these outbreaks connected? Is that the same thing? Is it a different thing? And it’s it’s really honestly too soon to tell right now. But the hope is that a source will be found soon so these products can be recalled from the market,” Lange said.

27 News reached out to all the county health departments in the WKOW viewing area but we have not been able to pinpoint the location of those who got sick with E. coli in Wisconsin.

Health officials in Rock, Sauk, Richland, Adams, Green, Grant, Jefferson and Marquette counties have all said they do not have any cases in their areas, along with UW Health in Madison. Dane County declined to respond to a request for information.

A DHS spokesperson says there is not one region that has more E. coli cases than others.

DHS says it is working with local public health departments to interview sick individuals to learn more about their activities, food and water sources, and foods and beverages they consumed before they became sick to identify any potential common source of infection, according to a DHS news release.

Symptoms vary but often include stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.

DHS recommends people wash their hands before preparing or eating food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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