Health officials investigating possible MRSA outbreak

LONDON, Ky (WKYT) - Public health officials say the investigation is just beginning into several illnesses in Laurel County.

Laurel County Coroner Doug Bowling says Paul Ryan, from Anvil, died on March 8 at Saint Joseph London. His cause of death is listed as pneumonia and MRSA.

Bowling says unlike the more common strains of MRSA this one, known as MRSA 300, is often transmitted by the public, instead of in hospitals.

He says another man was taken to Central Baptist Hospital in Lexington to be checked out for possible MRSA.

A cluster of other illnesses in Laurel County has led the Health Department to begin an investigation.

"We are in the beginning stages of the investigation. As we gather more information we'll probably have a better idea of where we're going and what the cause is," said Mark Hensley, the director of the Laurel county Health Department.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services is helping with the investigation. They confirm there are at least seven cases being investigated as possibly linked. These are cases where people have had shortness of breath and other flu-like symptoms.

Workers at the Laurel County jail say a recent inmate death is also being investigated. Courtney Beldon died on March 9. An autopsy is being performed to determine her cause of death.

Hensley says since it's so early in this investigation one of their biggest goals is determining if the people they are investigating are connected.

Representatives with Saint Joseph London say they are unable to discuss any of the cases because of privacy laws.

State officials say at this point they don't believe there is cause for the public to be alarmed. They say they should know the results of the tests they are running in a couple of days.

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