More than 25 E. Coli confirmed in Butte County

By: Kelsey Eidbo

Issue date: 10/1/08 Section: Online Exclusives


Source of Article:

Butte County Public Health has confirmed a tri-tip served at a Forest Ranch Volunteer Fire Department fundraiser as the source of at least 26 cases of E. coli reported in Butte County.

Officials are still trying to find out how the meat was contaminated.

Interviews are being held with those who handled the meat to determine the source, said Dr. Mark Lundberg, Butte County public health official. Meat is typically contaminated at the slaughterhouse or by the food handler.

There have not been any cases reported on campus, said Catherine Felix, director of Student Health Service. However, that does not represent students that may have gone to other doctors.

Symptoms of E. coli include stomach cramps and diarrhea. The disease can lead to a potentially fatal complication, hemolytic uremic syndrome or HUS, which can cause kidney failure.

The period between exposure and the first symptoms tends to be three to four days after exposure but could be anywhere from one to ten days. HUS usually develops about seven days after the first symptoms.

Though food preparation is in a stranger's hands at public events such as the fundraiser, it is important to be as careful as possible in personal kitchens, Lundberg said.

Lundberg advises students to wash their hands before food preparation, use a meat thermometer to cook meat adequately and be careful of cross contamination.

Anybody can become very sick from the potentially fatal bacterium. However, the very young, elderly and those with weak immune systems are at the highest risk.

Butte County Public Health advises anyone who attended the event and became sick to seek immediate medical attention. Those who work with high risk people or food should stop working and call the Butte County Public Health Department at 891-2732 to receive clearance to return to work.

An outbreak has not been reported on campus. Felix warns students against getting too worried over what could just be typical fall illness.

"There are a lot of kids right now with flu-like symptoms with the changing weather" Felix said. "But don't jump to conclusions. Just come visit the Health Center if you do feel something coming on."



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