Fourth case of E. coli confirmed in Boone County

Friday, November 4, 2011 | 4:02 p.m. CDT; updated 4:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, November 5, 2011

Update: As of Saturday afternoon, Geni Alexander, Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman, confirmed that no new cases of E. coli have been reported in Boone County.

COLUMBIA — Officials confirmed a fourth case of E. coli in Boone County on Friday morning.

The Columbia/Boone County Department of Health and Human Services is waiting to hear the results of a suspected fifth case of infection, according to a release.

"We know the state public health lab is working really hard to get the testing done, but we can't say for sure when we'll hear back," Geni Alexander, a spokeswoman for the department, said.

The E. coli cases started popping up in Boone County as the number of confirmed cases in St. Louis continued to rise.

According to a report from the Associated Press, there were 24 confirmed cases of E. coli in St. Louis as of Thursday. Alexander said the county's health department couldn't yet confirm whether there was a connection between the St. Louis-area outbreak and the local cluster of cases, but that the fourth confirmed case is considered probably related as the person traveled to St. Louis.

Alexander said officials are focusing on interviews with the affected people, and have not yet collected any local food samples for examination by the Missouri State Health Laboratory. She said food samples will be taken if a common source is identified in those interviews.

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