The Northwest Washington Fair is embarking on some targeted community health education after an E. coli outbreak earlier this year was linked to a building at the fairgrounds in Lynden, WA. A related presentation featuring remarks from the local health department, along with police, fire and fair officials, is scheduled for Wednesday evening, Aug. 12, at the Haggen Expo Building in Lynden, WA. As part of the effort, special training will be given on “healthy hand hygiene.” boywashinghands-406In addition, a volunteer group of “Hand-Washing Ambassadors” will be staffing a select number of the 24 hand-washing stations that will be set up throughout the fairgrounds when the annual fair takes place Aug. 17-22. That’s twice the number of stations available at last year’s fair. “Through our close consultations with the health department and outside groups, we’ve learned that the surest way to prevent the spread of E. coli is through proper, thorough and frequent hand-washing, so we’re doing everything we can to make sure our visitors have the access and tools necessary to do so,” said Steve VanderYacht, president of the fair’s board of directors. The fair has also posted a fact sheet about the importance of washing hands in order to prevent illness and the spread of infection. After an April 21-23, 2015, dairy-related event at the fairgrounds, 25 people were sickened and 10 of them were hospitalized. Most were children from local elementary schools who attended the Milk Makers Fest, those who helped to set up or during the event, or close contacts of people associated with it. The Whatcom County Health Department in Bellingham, WA, released a Final Investigation Summary in May, which indicated that the source of the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was probably the Dairy Barn at the fairgrounds.

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