As of Tuesday, four Kentucky children remain hospitalized after suffering E. coli O157:H7 infections. The cluster of cases is being investigated by the Lincoln Trail District Health Department based in Elizabethtown and the Kentucky State Department of Health.

According to news reports, the first illness was reported in mid-August. Health Department Public Information Officer Wendy Keown says investigators are trying to determine if there is a common cause.  There is a possibility of a sixth case as well.

“We thoroughly investigate activities such as recent travel, exposure to animals, food histories. You know, have they been swimming anywhere? And try to find any commonality between those to determine a source.  As of right now, there has not been a confirmed source of infection identified,” said Keown.

The children have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare and potentially fatal blood disorder.  The children range in age from 18 months to six years.

Keown says they are suffering kidney related problems. She says three of the children are from Hardin County and one each from Oldham and Boone Counties.

It’s possible they are not tied together, but Keown says that’s not likely.