Whatcom County Health Department has updated their investigation into the outbreak of shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 associated with the Milk Makers Fest held at the Northwest Fairgrounds in Lynden on 4/21/15 – 4/23/15. More than a thousand primary school children attended the event from all school districts in the county. Most of the cases are children.
The cumulative total as of 5/5/15 is 22 cases, with 7 hospitalized; and 20 probable cases, which is an increase of one probable case from Monday. The 22 cases include those with positive lab results, and clinical cases with close contact with a confirmed case. Public health officials are interviewing cases to discover if there was a common food or water source or activity in this outbreak.
The children did pet farm animals, and those animals have been the source of E. coli outbreaks in the past. The state public health lab is testing confirmed E. coli O157 cases to determine the serogroup. Public health officials should get the first results this week.
The symptoms of an E. coli illness include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, and a mild fever. Anyone who attended that event in Lynden, Washington and has experienced these symptoms should see a doctor immediately. An E. coli infection can worsen and become hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) if antibiotics are given to patients.