March 23, 2018

Sixty-One Now Sickened with E. coli 0157 in Neff’s Lawn Care Picnic Outbreak

image courtesy of the CDC

According to Bill Wharton, spokesman for the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department in Ohio, 61 people have been sickened with E. coli 0157 after attending a picnic held by Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown. Mr. Wharton said that 11 people have been hospitalized. Mr. Wharton said, “we aren’t releasing any information other than to say we’re investigating the outbreak.” The health department is interviewing picnic attendees and patients, looking at food sources, storage and handling practices, and cross-contamination potential.

Since 200 to 300 people attended the picnic, more cases may be reported. Doctors must report E. coli infections to public health officials. If you or anyone you know attended this picnic and have been sick, please call the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department at 937-225-4460 to talk to a public health official.

Symptoms of E. coli infections include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, a mild fever, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. E. coli 0157 infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, since that increases the risk that hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication, may occur.

These investigations are difficult, since many foods can be contaminated with E. coli bacteria. Outbreaks in the past have been linked to lettuce, sprouts, chicken, beef, raw milk, bologna, hazelnuts, raw cookie dough, and cheese.

After the initial outbreak, person-to-person contact can occur. Anyone with an E. coli infection should not prepare food or handle or serve food to anyone else until they are healthy. After an E. coli infection, professional food handlers must have one, sometimes more, negative stool samples before they return to work. It’s important that anyone who handles food wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap to prevent cross-contamination.

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