60 sickened: After 22 years, Milk Makers Fest in Lynden called off for 2016

The Bellingham Herald reports that about 1,325 Whatcom County first-grade students, plus the teachers and parents who accompanied them, from all school districts in Whatcom County went to the festival April 21-23 at the Northwest Washington Fair & Event Center in Lynden. The festival had been going on for 22 years by then.

It was organized by the Whatcom County Dairy Women.

A total of 60 people likely were sickened in the outbreak that was traced to the north end of the dairy barn where the event was held, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in October.

Milk Makers FestThe decision to not hold the event this year was made sometime after Christmas, according to Kim Vlas, an officer with the Whatcom County Dairy Women.

She declined to say whether the decision was made because of the E. coli cases, citing a pending lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges the organizations failed to protect children from being infected by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157: H7, the strain that sickened them, because they didn’t follow established public health rules and guidelines, including from the National Association of State Public Heath Veterinarians and the CDC. Such measures are meant to reduce illness in people who come into contact with farm animals.

Wash health officials limit fair events after E. coli outbreak

State health officials have restricted events at the Lynden, Whatcom County, fairgrounds, where an outbreak of dangerous E. coli sickened dozens last month, to prevent potential spread of additional illness.

petting.zoo.1.apr.13Dr. Scott Lindquist, the Washington state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, said the move is a precaution while county, state and federal officials determine the source of the outbreak that sent at least eight people to hospitals.

“We’re recommending they not have any more events until we’ve finished our investigation,” Lindquist said.

The request immediately affects a dog show planned for Saturday by the Mount Baker Kennel Club, expected to attract 800 canines and more than 2,000 people to the Northwest Washington Fair & Event Center.

Stiles said she understood and applauded health officials’ efforts to make sure no one else got sick at the site where more than 1,300 first-graders were exposed to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157: H7.

The outbreak followed the annual Milk Makers Fest held April 21-23. At least 15 people contracted lab-confirmed infections, with eight hospitalized and three who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of E. coli illness.

About 30 others are still being tested. Whatcom County health officials originally estimated as many as 47 people were sickened, but they’ve changed the way the cases are defined.

Washington Teen had dialysis and surgery following E. coli

Providing donuts for volunteers in a barn may be a key in an outbreak linked to 45 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses. According to King 5, Handwashing stations (which are never enough) weren’t available and hand sanitizer units were empty. A recipe for disaster, as they say.

The Whatcom County Health Department is trying to figure out what caused Toby Hager and 44 others to fall ill after a dairy festival in Lynden.

Hager described how he helped set up a maze in this dairy barn before the Milk Makers Fest last month.Donuts_(1)

“We were to pick up hay bales and set them up in a certain way for a map for a maze,” he said.

As a reward for their work, Hager and the rest of the Lynden High School Ag Tech class were fed donuts in the very same barn.

He said the hand washing stations were not turned on. He found only a pump of hand sanitizer.

“Just the one hand sanitizing station that was on a pole that, as I said before, was empty,” Hager said.

The next day the 15-year-old fell ill.

“He came home from school and complained he had a really bad headache,” said his mother, Amy Hayes-Shaw.

Soon he passed blood and started vomiting. Finally in the hospital doctors told his family he had contracted E. coli.

“I freaked out,” his mother said. “I was horrified. Because I remember Jack-In-The-Box and I remembered Odwalla.”

Just like the patients in those outbreaks, Hager suffered acute kidney failure. He went through surgery and dialysis twice.


3 first-graders sick: Washington health investigating E. coli cases in children at farm event in Lynden

Sorenne is in grade 1. Her school fete is this Sunday.

They plan to have a petting zoo, and I’ve said, this is a bad idea and let the principal know.

courtlynn.petting.zooWe’ll be at hockey.

At least three Whatcom County first-graders in Washington state, and possibly a fourth, have been sickened by shiga-toxin producing E. coli after attending the Milk Makers Fest in Lynden last week.

About 1,325 first-graders and their chaperones went to the event April 21-23 at the fairgrounds in Lynden. It was put on by the Whatcom County Dairy Women.

The event introduced young students to farming. It also gave the students a chance to pet farm animals, including small horses, sheep, rabbits, chickens and a calf, the dairy women wrote on their Facebook page.

Pasteurized chocolate milk was given to the children but isn’t considered a source of contamination because pasteurization destroys E. coli, according to the Facebook post.

“Nothing’s been ruled out,” said Greg Stern, Whatcom County health officer, on Tuesday, April 28.

 A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at https://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health

G. Erdozain, K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell


Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.petting1-791x1024petting2-791x1024