Marler Clark investigated an E. coli O103 outbreak linked to ground beef. As of 2019 there were no common supplier, distributer, or brand of ground beef identified as the cause of outbreak.
The CDC, several states, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also investigated this multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O103 infections. This investigation included E. coli O103 infections reported by the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may have been part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on E. coli bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE. WGS performed on E. coli from ill people in this outbreak showed that they are closely related genetically. This means that the ill people were more likely to share a common source of infection.
As of May 13, 2019, 196 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O103 were reported from ten states – Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia. CDC reported the 196 illnesses that PulseNet confirmed were part of this outbreak. States investigated additional illnesses that might have been a part of this outbreak.
Illnesses started on dates from March 1, 2019, to April 19, 2019. Ill people ranged in age from 1 to 84 years, with a median age of 19. Fifty-two percent were female. Of 174 people with information available, 28 (16%) had been hospitalized. No deaths and two cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) had been reported.
Outbreaks of E. coli O103 are rare. Investigation of this outbreak is now over. From the CDC NORS dataset:
|2000||Washington||Food||O103||Caterer (food prepared off-site from where served); Other||18|
|2011||Wisconsin||Animal Contact||O103; O157:H7||6|
|2013||Minnesota||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||3|
|2014||Ohio||Indeterminate||O103||Child day care||3|
|2014||Multistate||Food||O103:H2||Restaurant – other or unknown type||12|
|2014||Ohio||Indeterminate||O103; O157:H7; O146:H21||Private home/residence||4|
|2015||Multistate||Food||O103||Restaurant – other or unknown type||4|
|2015||Multistate||Food||O103||Restaurant – other or unknown type||6|
|2015||Kansas||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||12|
|2015||North Carolina||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||20|
|2015||Ohio||Indeterminate||O103||Child day care||5|
|2017||Ohio||Person-to-person||O103||Child day care||4|