Could Exotic Animals Be To Blame For Kentucky Woman's Mysterious Death? (updated)

By: Mark Kennedy Email
By: Mark Kennedy Email
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It's being called a medical mystery.

A central Kentucky woman is dead, just days after she started feeling sick.

Now her stepsister is also in a coma.

Friends say 22-year-old Ashley Foley died Monday night, at UK Hospital. Officials have confirmed it was the result of an infection.

But where that infection came from is still not known.

Now her stepsister is in a coma at Central Baptist Hospital with similar symptoms.

Doctors are baffled as to what exactly happened, but they're now looking at exotic animals as a possible cause of the infections.

One of the women owned 2 parakeets and a gerbil. Those animals have been euthanized, and are now being tested to see if they in fact caused both women to get sick.

Officials told 27 NEWSFIRST on Thursday that the autopsies on those animals didn't show any sign of infection, but more bloodwork is being done.

Late Wednesday night the Fayette County Coroner said he is now involved in the case.

Doctors at UK Hospital told Jessamine County officials they're looking into the possibility the illness can only be contracted through contact with the animials and not by human to human contact.

Latest From The Associated Press
Pets euthanized after woman's death, sister's illness

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Health officials are trying to determine if the death of a Madison County woman at the University of Kentucky Hospital had anything to do with her sister's two pet birds and a gerbil-like rodent.

Twenty-two-year-old Ashley Foley died Tuesday the result of what the Fayette County coroner's office dubbed "an unknown infection."

The owner of the pets is being treated at a Lexington hospital for a respiratory ailment. Director Nancy Crewe of the Jessamine County Health Department says there is no direct cause-and-effect link yet.

Director John Carpenter of Jessamine County Emergency Management says the pets were confiscated from a residence southeast of Nicholasville and euthanized. They were then taken to the UK Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center, but scientists there say nothing unusual was found.

It was determined that bird flu was not involved.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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  • by Jack Location: Pike County on Aug 4, 2007 at 06:13 AM
    Missing a lot of information. Like how long did they own the animals. What symptoms did they have. What types of tests were done to determine that the illness was linked to the animals. Why other people who may have handled these animals haven't contracted the illness. Not enough information.
  • by Alison Location: Lexington on Aug 4, 2007 at 12:04 AM
    Allison who is in a comma is doing a little better. Her illness was not caused from the animals, but a stroke. So it's not a wide spread disease and it started with pneumonia. Her 4 kids are doing well and no one else is sick. She's a good friend of mine and I hope everyone keeps her and her family in your prayers. Thank you.
  • by Fred Location: Lexington on Aug 3, 2007 at 11:39 AM
    Maybe it is NOT linked to the animals?
  • by unknown Location: Midway on Aug 3, 2007 at 09:38 AM
    We really need symptoms in this case I'm sure not 1 other person wants to die when they knew it was serious. What was the symptoms for the 2 sisters? This could be a wide spread disease for all anyone knows and we are ALL at risk.
  • by Anonymous on Aug 3, 2007 at 06:07 AM
    My concern is...what is killing these people and how fast can it be spread? If this is spread from person to person alot of people could be at risk. I hope that your children are ok, UNKNOWN in Lexington.
  • by carolyn Location: ky on Aug 2, 2007 at 08:10 PM
    what are some of the symptoms the lady's had. thank you
  • by UNKNOWN Location: Lex,ky on Aug 2, 2007 at 11:35 AM
    I knew this female my ex- husband was her boyfriend and I have four children three in which are his have been around ashley I want answer's if my children are at risk of their health. I am VERY CONCERNED!!!!!
  • by Maeina Location: ky. on Aug 2, 2007 at 08:46 AM
    The Jessamine County Health Dept stated, "there is no direct cause-and- effect link yet," as to the cause of the illness. Then how can they determine that the "Bird Flu" is Not involved, as was stated?" Give us facts!
  • by Susan Location: Somerset on Aug 2, 2007 at 07:14 AM
    Since when are parakeets "exotic animals"?


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