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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

It happened at the Picnic, but the E. coli source mystery continues

It is inconclusive as to what food item or other environmental factor caused this outbreak of E. coli O157:H7.

Dayton & Montgomery County announced today that following an intensive investigation into the July outbreak of O157:H7 in Germantown, they were unable to determine the cause of the outbreak.

Neff E. coli-2012-07-09-16h08m00s102_20120709160825_320_240.PNGA picnic was held at Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown, Ohio on July 3, 2012. As a result of eating food at this picnic, 79 cases of E. coli O157:H7 foodborne illness were reported. Two of those were secondary cases, (contacts of primary cases). Twenty persons tested positive by laboratory analysis, 14 were hospitalized, 3 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and unfortunately one death occurred.

It was estimated that over 300 attended the picnic and ate food. The food at the event was provided by the host and by the 300+ individuals who brought carry-in foods. Additionally, approximately 2000 were in attendance for a fireworks celebration on the grounds after the picnic. No one who attended only the fireworks show became ill. The primary attack rate among those who ate at the picnic is estimated at 26.3 % (79/300). The statistical analysis of data from the 117 interviews did not conclusively link any of the meat items to having caused the illness.

Because the investigation of the outbreak began on July 9, when the first reports of illness occurred, there were no food items left for examination, since the picnic occurred on July 3. The sponsors and the attendees provided food for the event. Two hogs were roasted off-site and delivered to the event at mealtime. Hamburgers and hot dogs were grilled at the site and served. Over 100 carry-in side dishes were brought by attendees and placed out for service.

  • Carl Custer

    Any PFGE matches in Pulse Net?
    FWIW, swine and chickens also carry STECs but have yet (AFAIK) to be linked to an outbreak.

  • Eyob

    What a challenge! Were either both or one of the secondary cases among the family members that brought foods to the picnic? Costly, but perhaps identifying families that brought “suspect foods” and doing some environmental sampling of their homes might be an option….

  • Lewis

    Were any samples taken of the number water sources? Environmental health specialist inspection of the event?