Investigations on the fatal Escherichia coli outbreak in Hildale that claimed the lives of two children and sickened 10 others are finally coming to a close. Health officials have confirmed that livestock to human transmission was involved.
According to the report released on July 28, a thorough examination revealed that the livestock tested positive for e. coli and their owners have already been contacted and given proper guidance on what to do to contain the infection.
"The last case was July 9. Some people are still recovering. ... (But) we think the outbreak is over," Southwest Utah Public Health Department spokesperson David Heaton said.
E. Coli Transmission
Officials say the disease most likely originated from infected animals whose manure came into contact with and transmitted the disease to humans, and a human to human transmission followed suit.
The department also confirms that tests on the water systems and springs, as well as ground meat, dairy products, and produce all returned negative results for e. coli so these are safe to consume.
Health officials questioned hundreds of people in Hildale, Centennial Park, and Colorado City and tested several possible sources to determine the main cause of the infection. Finally, they narrowed it down with the cooperation and support of the affected communities.
According to the report, no new cases turned up past July 9 but the department remained concerned because several of the cases involved the O157H7, which is a more dangerous strain.
"Certain types of E.coli are more concerning than others. Some of the cases in this outbreak have been identified as the O157H7 strain, characterized by bloody diarrhea and serious complications." SWUPHD Health Officer Dr. David Blodgett explains.
Stay Safe From Infection
Health officials believe that the outbreak should be contained at this time but they continue to monitor for the disease in the affected communities.
Officials also remind citizens that the disease is very unpredictable so everyone should exercise caution by practicing good hygiene, cooking meat thoroughly, and keeping sick animals away from children, among others.
Children and those with weak immune systems are highly susceptible to the disease so it is important to ensure that they wash their hands properly if and when they come into contact with sick animals. Anyone preparing food should also wash their hands thoroughly, especially when raw meat and produce are involved, to avoid contracting and transmitting the disease to others.
If a person experiences diarrhea accompanied by bleeding, vomiting, and fever for more than three days, it is best to consult a doctor immediately.