According to the Whatcom County Health Department, located in Bellingham (north of Seattle in Washington State), there has been an E. coli outbreak among first-graders – three confirmed and one suspected so far. The three confirmed cases all attended the Milk Makers Fest, sponsored by the Whatcom County Dairy Women (WCDW), at the Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center in Lynden. According to reports, these kids were among about 1,000 first-graders who attended the April 20-24 event. According to a Whatcom County Health Officer, Greg Stern , the source has not been definitively established. What we do know is that the kids were exposed to farm animals, which commonly carry E. coli, and drank pasteurized chocolate milk that was provided by the fair.

According to E. coli lawyer Ron Simon, “petting zoos and state or county fairs are often the source of outbreaks of E. coli, salmonella, and Listeria because many of the children touch the animals or other objects that have come into contact with animal feces. Animal and human feces are the primary conduits of these types of bacteria.” Simon noted that “the fact that at least four children are linked to the fair is strong indication that something at the fair was contaminated with E. coli.” Given this fact, there were likely a number of other victims who either did not get sick enough to seek medical attention or who were diagnosed with something like the stomach flu. “According to one estimate,” Simon explains, “in many outbreaks there are as many as 30 victims for every one that is identified by a health department.”

Following the news reports of the E. coli outbreak, the WCDW came out and said that they provided hand sanitizers at the events, including at the trailer where the farm animals were kept. Jackie Blok, who is the president of the WCDW, also released a statement stating “our hearts and prayers go out to the children, their families and loved ones. While we have not confirmed that this educational event is the source of the illness, we are deeply concerned for their quick recovery.”

Health alerts have now been placed at both the Blaine School District and the Lynden School District.

If you have questions or concerns about this or any other E. coli outbreak, call the E. coli lawyers at Ron Simon & Associates at 1-888-335-4901.