Update: The Dawson County Health Department in Glendive, MT, reported late Tuesday that there are now more than 36 people from nine states reported ill in connection with this outbreak, and that at least seven of them have been hospitalized. As of Tuesday, no new cases have been reported in Dawson County; however, there are confirmed cases in six other Montana counties. “The incubation period of E. Coli has passed from the initial event, however since it can be passed from person to person, there is a potential for a second wave of infections. The bacteria can be shed by previously infected people for several weeks, even after symptoms go away. Good hand washing is the best way to protect yourself, your family and other persons,” the county stated. Previous coverage follows: generic Montana mapAn all-class reunion held last month in Richey, MT, reportedly left some participants with more than pleasant memories. At least 30 people from eight states were sickened with E. coli O157 by an unknown food item, and several of them had to be hospitalized. “Currently more than 30 persons have been reported ill and at least 6 have been hospitalized. The event was attended by people from multiple states. At this time we have reports of cases in 8 states. In Montana 6 counties have been affected. New cases are still being reported and additional laboratory results are pending,” according to a July 28 Facebook post from the Dawson County Health Department in Glendive, MT. County health officials said those who became ill had attended the Richey Centennial and All-Class Reunion held July 15-17 in the small town in northeastern Montana. Officials have been interviewing people who attended one or more days of the event and have asked them to complete an online survey. The introduction to the online survey notes that more information will be released when it becomes available and that, in the interim, people are asked “to refrain from speculation regarding the cause” of the outbreak. News reports suggested that some of the food served during the reunion weekend may have been taken to people’s homes as leftovers. Meanwhile, a variety of food samples from the reunion are being tested and state and local public health officials are trying to track down where the E. coli bacteria may have come from. “While we are narrowing down the source, it is too early to tell what the exact cause of the outbreak was,” noted the county’s Facebook post. “Local food vendors have been very cooperative in this investigation. We encourage anyone who attended the event to not consume any leftover foods they may have brought back from the event and to contact their local health department if they still have leftover food, in case it may become of interest.” The Dawson County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services are working together on the outbreak. Infection with E. coli bacteria often causes several stomach cramps and diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting. Fever may be present, but in some cases, it is not. Symptoms usually appear within two to eight days after exposure. Most people get better within five to seven days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening, particularly if the person develops the kidney-related complication known as HUS (hemolytic uremic syndrome).

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