According to Utah health official and media, in the last two weeks, eight cases of E. coli (likely a shiga-toxin producing E. coli like E. coli O157:H7) were reported in Utah County residents, with at least five of the subjects hospitalized (likely with hemolytic uremic syndrome – HUS) due to the severity of symptoms.
Currently, all reported cases are residents of Lehi or have close ties to the city, says a statement from the Utah County Health Department.
Epidemiologists are working to identify the source of infection, it says. Preliminary investigation links the likely source of spread to using pressurized irrigation water for drinking and play.
“This is a critical situation, and I am concerned for the public,” Lehi Mayor Mark Johnson said in the prepared statement. “I want residents to be aware that pressurized irrigation water should not be used for anyone to play in. No one should drink irrigation water that comes to their home.”
The Utah County Health Department, State Department of Health, and City of Lehi are working to gather water samples to investigate the source of the bacteria.
Drinking and/or playing in irrigation water could pose a risk to humans and pets. Pressurized irrigation water is untreated and can contain harmful contaminants like E. coli.
The statement asked residents to follow the following guidelines:
• Do not drink irrigation water or water from an unknown source. Contact your local City Public Works office with any questions about a city’s water source.
• Do not play or allow children to play in water from an irrigation source. Do not use the water for slip-and-slides, inflatable bounce houses or kiddie pools, and do not allow play in sprinklers using irrigation water.
If you see or notice any of the following symptoms, contact a Healthcare Provider:
• Bloody diarrhea
• Persistent diarrhea
E. coli can be transmitted from person to person. Good handwashing and hygiene are necessary to prevent the spread. If you have questions about watering your garden or consuming produce from your garden, please read this article from USU Extension.
E. coli: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $850 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.