September 22, 2017

Oklahoma E. Coli Outbreak Investigated

Dr. Lauri Smithee, Acute Disease Service Director of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, spoke to Food Poisoning Bulletin and confirmed that an E. coli outbreak is associated with the Oklahoma Youth Expo held at the Oklahoma state fairgrounds in March 2014. Twelve people are sick, in various stages of confirmation. Four people have been confirmed ill with E. coli infections through lab tests.

Two children are sick with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and are hospitalized. One is two years old; the other is eight.

The investigation is still broad. Initial cases were reported following a livestock show, but more recent patients said they have had animal contact, but not at that particular show. Right now investigators are concentrating on case control studies and PFGE matches to see if contact with livestock was the cause of the illnesses, or if food or something else made people sick.

At the fairgrounds, four barns were in use during the Expo. The livestock shown included cattle, sheep, and goats. Food vendors were also open during the exhibit, including standard on-site concession stands and some mobile vendors.

Those in charge of the Expo said that plenty of handwashing sinks were set up at the barns and near the concessions stands, and they were fully stocked with soap and handwashing gel. Investigators are making sure that was the case, and that the handwashing areas were properly maintained throughout the event.

The investigation is just beginning, so surveillance and gathering information to put on patient questionnaires is the focus at this point. Public health officials want to find the common exposure to solve this outbreak. At this point, cases are reported from six counties in Oklahoma, including Woods, Stephens, Comanche, and others.

The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, possible mild fever, possible nausea and vomiting, along with diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody. If you or anyone you know has been experiencing these symptoms, please contact a health care professional as soon as possible. E. coli infections can lead to HUS, which can cause kidney failure and death.

Comments

  1. OYE was 14 days ago. The home and garden show was the last day of OYE. The circus was the following week. How can you tell it was from OYE?

    • Linda Larsen says:

      Because everyone who has been sick has worked with ruminant animals; most were at the Youth Expo. That is the common point of exposure. This information is from the Oklahoma State Department of Health; not us.

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