It seems that every time a new E. coli outbreak hits the news, Colorado reports illnesses. Several major meatpacking plants and slaughterhouses are located there, but they are major producers and their products are distributed nationally; thus, residents of other states are just as likely, most of the time, to be sickened by contaminated meat produced there. Here is just a short selection of recent E. coli outbreaks in which Colorado reported confirmed cases:
- JBS beef E. coli O157:H7 outbreak (2009)
- Bison meat E. coli O157:H7 outbreak (2010)
- Nestle Cookie Dough (2008)
- Dole baby spinach E. coli outbreak (2006)
- Jimmy John’s sprouts E. coli outbreak (2008)
- ConAgra beef E. coli outbreak (2002)
And most recently, Colorado reports at least 8 confirmed illnesses from Douglas, Boulder, and Arapahoe counties in the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to gouda cheese produced by Bravo Farms Cheeses, LLC.
So what gives? Are Coloradans particularly susceptible to infection, or are producers who service this state just out to get Colorado residents? Fortunately, no. There are multiple state health agencies in this country that consistently report cases in major foodpoisoning outbreaks, and are often instrumental in the detection of the outbreaks in the first place. Among them, most notably, are Wisconsin, Utah, Minnesota, California, and Colorado. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment knows its job, and does it well, as do various county health departments statewide. Health care providers also do a first-rate job of looking for infectious diseases and reporting them through the proper channels when they treat somebody with an E. coli or other foodpoisoning illness.