Rifle Rodeo Outbreak Sickens at Least 36 following a Private Event at the Garfield County Fairgrounds Earlier this Month
According to Garfield County Public Health (GCPH) officials, several dozen of the more than 200 attendees of the Rifle Rodeo on or about June 5 became ill – likely from consumption of food. The event, which is a private show attended by about 200 individuals, served food and exposed attendees to livestock. GCPH was notified on June 6 that a number of individuals were suffering from gastroenteritis and flu-like symptoms including nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The onset of symptoms followed attendance by approximately 6 hours, this according to GCPH Environmental Health Specialist Billy Harkins.
“We are still investigating the cause of the outbreak, and are taking all possible factors into consideration. The total number of individuals who became ill and the duration of their illness has not been confirmed.”
While the source of the Rifle Rodeo Outbreak remains under investigation, investigators are also looking into whether event organizers used properly licensed and approved food vendors. The private event was not inspected and licensed as may have been required of an event with food vendors and more than 200 guests. According to one Consumer Protection Division spokesperson, Carrie Godes, “with few exceptions, any vendor that provides food at a public event must be licensed.” According to the GCPH, nonprofit organizations are asked to submit a nonprofit vendor application and official nonprofit documentation to Garfield County Public Health at least two weeks prior an event. For-profit events have to pay a modest licensing and inspection fee.
According to local reports, some of the more common pathogens, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Hepatitis A have been ruled out either by testing or the short incubation period.