Four cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and 10 hospitalizations have now been confirmed in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that has sickened 25 people, mostly first grade students from public schools around Bellingham, Washington, and surrounding Whatcom County. Health officials have linked the illnesses to the Milk Makers Fest, held a month ago at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Washington. A petting zoo and animal exhibits were part of the three-day attraction.
Festival organizers have been providing updates on the public E. coli investigation and their latest announcement states that new information will be provided “in the near future.” County, state and federal health investigators have been trying to determine the cause of the outbreak for weeks. Festival organizers said Tuesday that four of ten areas sampled at the location of the festival have produced positive findings of E. coli that match the outbreak strain of the pathogen.
Some outbreak case patients are still sick. Those who contracted E. coli HUS undoubtedly suffered kidney failure. They were at risk for other complications, including neurological damage, stroke, seizures, heart trouble and injuries to their vascular systems. All patients, regardless of how serious their initial conditions became, face possible long-term health consequences and associated medical expenses. Some of the victims of this outbreak were infected by germs of the sick children.