The latest reported case count in the E. coli outbreak in Washington state is 23 lab-confirmed cases, with 8 of those people hospitalized, and another 22 individuals exhibiting symptoms of the infection but whose lab results were not yet available. Most of those sickened are first-grade students from five local school districts who attended a dairy festival in Lynden, WA, last week. However, some adults and older children who attended the festival are also among those who became ill. Whatcom County Health Department officials in Bellingham said that they are continuing to investigate the cause of the outbreak, which has been identified as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The story posted April 29 follows: According to the latest information from the Whatcom County Health Department in Bellingham, WA, there are now six area children sickened by E. coli bacteria after attending a dairy festival in Lynden, WA, last week. Two are in the hospital, said Greg Stern, county health officer. Five of those sickened are first-graders, and the sixth is an older child who was reportedly involved in setting up the Milk Makers Fest but who was not on a field trip with the other students. Four of the confirmed cases are Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), and the other two individuals are apparently not confirmed cases but have symptoms consistent with E. coli infection. The original story posted April 28 follows: The Whatcom County Health Department in Bellingham, WA, is investigating an E. coli outbreak involving at least three area first-graders and potentially a fourth child. The three cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) were confirmed by laboratory testing after the children attended the Milk Makers Fest this past week at the fairgrounds in Lynden, WA. As of Monday evening, none of the children was hospitalized, according to media reports. More than 1,000 first-graders and accompanying adults attended the event held April 20-24 where the students could learn about farming and pet farm animals. They also were offered pasteurized chocolate milk. While the source of the outbreak has not yet been identified, Whatcom County Health Officer Greg Stern said that nothing had been ruled out. He noted that the main sources of E. coli are contaminated food and/or water and contact with livestock. Whatcom County Dairy Women, which sponsored the event, stated on the group’s Facebook page that hand sanitizers were provided for the children at various locations, including entering and existing the trailer containing the farm animals. “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,” stated Jackie Blok, the group’s president. Any child who attended the Milk Makers Fest and begins to show symptoms of E. coli infection should be taken to a health care provider, the group added. Infection with E. coli bacteria typically causes diarrhea (often bloody), vomiting and stomach cramps. Both the Blaine School District in Blaine, WA, and the Lynden School District have posted health alerts on their websites. One of the sickened children is a student at Blaine Primary School, according to that district’s notice posted Tuesday. The Lynden School District posted a letter Tuesday to parents and guardians from the county health department.