Possible E. coli outbreak: Virginia girl dies from E. coli infection

E.coli image. Photo: Mattosaurus via Wikimedia Commons

BRISTOL, Va. (AP) - Health officials say at least 18 people have been infected with E. coli over the past six weeks, including a young Virginia girl who died from the infection.

Thirteen of the cases were reported in northeast Tennessee and the other five were in western Virginia.

Virginia Department of Health spokesman Robert Parker tells the Bristol Herald Courier the agency has found "similarities" between the strains that have sickened residents in the two states, but health officials continue to look for the source.

"We are seeing some similarities in the strains from Virginia and Tennessee," Parker said. "But nothing to link them in terms of transmission . no common source has been identified."

But Parker says they have not identified a common source. On June 5, a 2-year-old girl from Dryden, Va., died and her brother was rushed to a Tennessee hospital after they became infected with E. coli., Tennessee authorities said. The boy was later released.

Sullivan County, Tenn., health director David Kirshke said authorities are treating the infections as a possible outbreak because they happened so close together.

An E. coli outbreak that originated in Germany has sickened thousands and killed more than two dozen people there. Authorities there said Brussels sprouts, often used in salads, were the source of the outbreak.