The Dawson County Heath Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services have announced that there are now 36 people sick in the E. coli outbreak associated with the Richey Centennial Event & All Class Reunion. That event took place on July 15th through the 17th, 2016.
Public health officials say it is too early to definitively state the cause of the outbreak. Local food vendors have been cooperating in the investigation. The Health Department is encouraging anyone who may have leftover foods from those events to not consume them. If you do have leftover food, contact the health department because it may help solve the outbreak.
More than 36 people are sick in this outbreak; seven people have been hospitalized. Those sickened live in nine different states and six Montana counties. As of August 2, 2016, no new cases have been reported in Dawson County.
Anyone who ate food at those events will no longer get sick from food consumed there; but the illness can be passed from person to person. There may be a second wave of infections because of this fact. The bacteria can be shed in the stool of sick people for weeks, even after the person has recovered.
The best way to protect yourself is to make sure everyone thoroughly washes their hands after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, or caring for someone who is ill. Sick people should not prepared food for others or serve food. If you are sick, especially with a diarrheal illness, do not make food for other people. Stay home until you are well.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include nausea, vomiting, a mild fever, severe abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery. Symptoms usually begin three to four days after exposure to the bacteria.
If this illness is improperly treated with antibiotics or anti-diarrheal medications, it may develop into hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure, seizures, coma, and death. the symptoms of an HUS infection include little or no urine output, fatigue, lethargy, easy bruising, skin rash, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. If anyone has these symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately.