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Health Officials: Latest U.S. E. Coli Cases Unrelated to Outbreak in Europe

The Virginia 2-year-old who died from an E. coli bacterial infection that has also sickened her brother, as well as at least 10 other E. coli infections in Tennessee since June 1, are unrelated to the infections in Germany, said health officials, according to the Johnson City Press.

Dr. David Kirschke, medical director of the Northeast Regional Health Office in Johnson City, Tenn., said the office is “taking it very seriously and encouraging people to follow precautions.”

Based on lab results from June 2 and 3, Kirschke said, “It looks like we may be dealing with two separate (strains). What looks like is seven cases that are not related to the 0157 (strain) that are probably a milder strain, and one case of the 0157 that can have more severe complications.”

Kirschke said a common cause has not been found, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

He said, however, that the lab results did not indicate a link to the E. coli outbreak in Europe, which has killed 26 people and sickened more than 2,600.

Some of the local patients were eating improperly cooked meat, but others were infected while swimming in untreated water. He says the department is treating the cases as an outbreak and interviewing people who became ill from E. coli to learn the likely causes of infection.

Kirschke says the department is treating the cases as an outbreak and interviewing people who became ill from E. coli to learn the likely causes of infection.

Virginia Department of Health spokesman Robert Parker told the Bristol Herald-Courier that lab results confirmed the presence of E. coli in the 2-year-old Dryden, Va., girl, who died over the weekend. Her brother was flown to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville for treatment of similar symptoms.

Kirschke said among the 10 Tennesseans being treated for E. coli was another young child in intensive care at a Knoxville hospital.

Click here to read more on this story from the Johnson City Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.