The investigation into an outbreak of E. coli in the border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona are drawing to a close and it is believed that infected animals were the source of the disease.
Two young children died and at least 11 people were sickened due to the outbreak, which Fox 13 News first reported July 2.
Friday, The Southwest Utah Public Health Department issued an update and stated that “It has been determined that the likely source of the disease was infected animals, followed by person-to-person contact. Several livestock tested positive for the E. coli strain involved in this outbreak.”
The owners of affected livestock have been notified and given guidance about how to proceed. The health department says tests of water systems, nearby springs, ground beef, produce and dairy products in the area were all negative. There have been no new cases reported in connection with this outbreak since July 9.
The family of 6-year-old Gabriella Fullerton of Hildale confirmed their daughter died of kidney failure as a result of E. coli. Fullerton and another young boy who lives nearby died while several other people were sickened.
Two children died from E. coli in southern Utah in recent weeks, the Southwest Utah Public Health Department confirmed Monday, as reported by KSL.
Four other incidents of E. coli have also been reported in the area of the border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, said Southwest Utah Public Health Department spokesman David Heaton.
The incidents are limited to that area, he said.
The cause for the outbreak is still being investigated, but health officials believe it can likely be traced to contamination from food or animals. Heaton says investigators don’t think the town’s water supply is the cause.
Before Monday, Heaton had refused to confirm the deaths. He declined Monday to release the names, ages or genders of the two children who died. He said the four non-fatal cases are a combination of children and adults but said he didn’t have the exact breakdown. Some of them are still being treated, though none of their conditions were released.
Multiple people who identified themselves as relatives of 6-year-old Gabriella Addison Fullerton indicated on Facebook that she was one of the victims who died. On a GoFundMe webpage* published Friday seeking donations for funeral costs, loved ones called Gabrielle “our little angel” who “has passed on to a better place.”
“Her family is completely devastated at losing such a precious and loving child. She was taken at the tender age of 6. … Hold your babies close every chance you get,” the page states.
Both Hildale and Colorado City are well-known for being largely polygamous communities, with many residents being members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.
Alex Stuckey of The Salt Lake Tribune reports nine people who drank raw milk from Heber Valley Milk in the past five months have contracted salmonella.
The Utah Department of Health on Tuesday said health officials currently are investigating the outbreak. A raw milk sample collected from the Wasatch County dairy last week tested positive for Salmonella Saintpaul. But a more recent sample showed no signs of the infection, so the dairy has resumed sales.
Grant Kohler, owner of the dairy, said he is working with the state Department of Agriculture and Food to determine the cause of the outbreak.
“We don’t know what the cause was and we’re not 100 percent sure that it’s our place,” Kohler said. “We will do whatever we need to do to make sure we’re selling a safe product.”
A family in American Fork is receiving an outpouring of support after an 8-year-old girl became sick last week, was rushed to a hospital but died five days later.
Brian and Melissa Jolley never imagined they would be making funeral plans for their daughter, Hannah.
“She always wanted to play with her friends, loved playing with friends,” Melissa Jolley said.
On the morning of July 14, she started showing symptoms typical of the flu. But her condition quickly deteriorated.
“Come Thursday night she had a really, really hard night. And Friday morning we could tell she was in a lot of pain,” Brian Jolley said.
Doctors at Utah Valley Hospital quickly diagnosed her with E. coli. She was later flown to Primary Children’s Hospital. Last Monday she had a seizure, and doctors determined Hannah had hemolytic uremic syndrome, a disease that destroys red blood cells.
The most common cause of HUS, particularly in children, is E. coli infection.
“We have no idea how she got the E. coli. At this point it’s not important,” Brian Jolley said. “We want answers someday. Of course, we want to know where it came from.”
Hannah died Tuesday night, and since then the show of support from the community has been non-stop. Hand-made decorations, chalk art and ribbons decorate the Jolleys’ home in American Fork. Complete strangers have phoned and emailed the family to offer support.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that a total of 99 cases (59 confirmed and 40 probable) of campylobacteriosis, including 10 patients who were hospitalized, and one who died, occurred in an outbreak in northern Utah associated with a single raw milk dairy.
The outbreak was documented by epidemiologic, environmental, and laboratory evidence. Despite routine testing of raw milk showing results within acceptable limits, the milk still contained dangerous bacteria.
To limit outbreaks from raw milk consumption, more reliable routine tests are needed that do not rely solely on bacterial, coliform, and somatic cell counts. Case investigation and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis patterns from environmental samples can support an epidemiologic link and allow implementation of control measures.
In May 2014, the Utah Public Health Laboratory (UPHL) notified the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) of specimens from three patients infected with Campylobacter jejuni yielding indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. All three patients had consumed raw (unpasteurized and nonhomogenized) milk from dairy A. In Utah, raw milk sales are legal from farm to consumer with a sales permit from the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF). Raw milk dairies are required to submit monthly milk samples to UDAF for somatic cell and coliform counts, both of which are indicators of raw milk contamination. Before this cluster’s identification, dairy A’s routine test results were within acceptable levels (<400,000 somatic cells/mL and <10 coliform colony forming units/mL). Subsequent enhanced testing procedures recovered C. jejuni, a fastidious organism, in dairy A raw milk; the isolate matched the cluster pattern. UDAF suspended dairy A’s raw milk permit during August 4–October 1, and reinstated the permit when follow-up cultures were negative. Additional cases of C. jejuni infection were identified in October, and UDAF permanently revoked dairy A’s permit to sell raw milk on December 1. During May 9–November 6, 2014, a total of 99 cases of C. jejuni infection were identified. Routine somatic cell and coliform counts of raw milk do not ensure its safety. Consumers should be educated that raw milk might be unsafe even if it meets routine testing standards.
As Fox News is to Jon Stewart, Jimmy John’s is to food safety types: the gift that keeps on giving.
A Jimmy Johns – they make those sandwiches popular on university campuses — in Utah was, according to health types, closed for an imminent health hazard in response to a foodborne illnesses outbreak and ongoing illness connected to this establishment and the following violations:
- Food employees worked in the establishment while ill.
- An employee did not wash hands when changing gloves.
- An employee removed a loaf of bread from the pan with bare hands.
- Fresh bread is being stored on the dirty dish drain board.
- An employee beverage is stored next to establishment food in the walk in cooler.
- The vent in the walk in cooler is not properly repaired to be easily cleanable.
- Fan covers in the walk-in cooler are dirty.
- Food equipment is not being air dried before being nested together.
- The mop is not hung to air dry.
- Bread sticks in the walk in freezer are not covered to prevent contamination.
- Food is being stored on the floor.
Keeping with the Utah theme, Cedar City residents have been heading over to The Pizza Cart to support the restaurant, after a food handler working at the restaurant tested positive for Hepatitis A.
Larisa Banks of Cedar City started an event on Facebook for supporters of the The Pizza Cart to come out and enjoy the restaurant on Friday.
“They have the best pizza and a great atmosphere,” she said. “My husband and I are small business owners in town and it is really hard to see another local business get hurt by something that is really out of their control. We just wanted to show our support.”
Banks said she was offended by some of the comments she heard in town – and on Facebook – and wanted to bring more attention that The Pizza Cart is not to blame.
“The whole thing about this (Hepatitis A) case is that it could have literally happened to anyone,” she said. “Any restaurant in town that has people working for them and handling food, it could have happened to them. The Pizza Cart was super classy with their online news release, they have been up front and honest and they took responsibility for everything, so we should support them for it.”
The Pizza Cart owner Cindy Murray, said, “It is unknown how the employee contracted the virus. However, this employee is recovering and will not be returning to work until medically cleared. All of our other employees have received the Hepatitis A vaccination.”
About 50 people were taken to Salt Lake City hospitals Sunday night after reports of food poisoning at a homeless shelter, and some individuals were transported by bus due to the high volume of patients; firefighters said there don’t appear to be any serious illnesses as a result of the incident.
Jasen Asay, Salt Lake City Fire Department Spokesman, said about 50 individuals from the Road Home Shelter, located at 210 South Rio Grande, were taken to nearby hospitals. He said they evaluated the patients and transported some by ambulance and others who were less ill by bus.
To be presented at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 64th Annual Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) conference April 20-23 in Atlanta.
Summary: Despite routine testing, raw milk from a Utah dairy sickened 99 people with Campylobacter; 1 died and 10 were hospitalized. A 2-month shutdown failed to stop the outbreak and the dairy’s raw milk permit was revoked.
Background: In Utah, raw milk sales are legal from farm to consumer. Despite routine bacterial and coliform
counts by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF), raw milk-related illnesses occur. In May 2014, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) identified a cluster of 3 Campylobacter jejuni infections with indistinguishable pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns. All patients reported consuming Dairy A’s raw milk. Routine testing of UDAF-licensed Dairy A’s raw milk was acceptable. We investigated to identify a source and prevent additional infections.
Methods: UDAF used onsite milk neutralization technique to preserve C. jejuni during testing. Utah’s electronic disease surveillance system identified cases. Confirmed illness was defined as diarrhea caused by C. jejuni matching the cluster PFGE pattern. Probable illness was diarrhea and contact with a confirmed patient or raw milk purchased from Dairy A. Confirmed patients were interviewed by using a standardized questionnaire.
Results: During May 9–July 31, a total of 89 (52 confirmed and 37 probable) cases were identified. Eleven (21.2%) confirmed patients were hospitalized; 1 died. Twenty-five (48.1%) confirmed patients reported having consumed Dairy A raw milk. Fifteen (28.8%) confirmed patients reported having eaten queso fresco. Dairy A’s raw milk yielded C. jejuni with the cluster PFGE pattern. UDAF suspended Dairy A’s raw milk permit on August 4 for 2 months. Additional cases occurred in November; UDAF revoked Dairy A’s raw milk permit on December 1.
Conclusions: Routine testing of raw milk does not ensure its safety. Mandatory reporting, timely sample collection, pathogen testing, and onsite milk neutralization likely led to C. jejuni detection. Linking case and raw milk PFGE patterns might identify the source and allow implementation of control measures.
Utah public health officials are investigating a few cases of sickness associated with raw or unpasteurized milk.
A few? Is there that many people in Utah?
So far, 45 cases of Campylobacter infection have been confirmed in people who had raw milk in the week they got sick.
Officials said the illness has been reported in Cache, Davis, Morgan, Salt Lake, Utah and Weber counties.
Two cases have also been confirmed in California and Idaho.
The first case of the infection was reported May 9.
The Utah Dept. of Health said all 45 cases are linked to raw milk or cream purchased at Ropelato Dairy in Weber County.
The Utah Dept. of Agriculture suspended the dairy’s license to sell raw milk on Aug. 4 after several tests were positive for Campylobacter.
Larry Lewis with the UDAF said the dairy has been very cooperative in working with the inspectors and it will be allowed to sell raw milk again as soon as it consistently passes safety tests.