The E. coli O157 outbreak associated with the Milk Makers Fest at the Northwest Fairgrounds in Lynden, Whatcom County, Washington has now sickened 36 people, according to the Health Department. The latest update is 18 positive cases, and 18 probable cases. Five people have been hospitalized; at least some of those have hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection. That is a change of one more new confirmed case, three new probable cases, and one new hospitalization.
The positive cases have either those with positive lab tests, or close contact with a positive or presumptive positive case. The probable cases are people with clinical symptoms who were associated with the event, but lab results were either not available or not conducted.
The Health Department and government officials are still investigating to see if contact with livestock or a common food or water source was the source of the pathogenic bacteria. The state lab is testing confirmed E. coli O157 isolates for serogroup to see if the bacteria is E. coli O157:H7 or another strain. The health department will have firsts results of testing early next week.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, severe abdominal cramps, and a mild fever. If your child was one of the 1,300 who attended this event April 21 – 23, 2015 and has experienced these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. E. coli infections can become HUS if treated with antibiotics, so an early and accurate diagnosis is crucial to a good outcome.