According to Food Safety News, the E. coli outbreak in southwest Utah that has already killed two is growing, and public health officials there have warned people to avoid consuming raw milk or recently purchased ground beef.
Officials with the Southwest Utah Public Health Department initially reported six victims in a July 3 health alert. As of Tuesday, 11 victims had been confirmed. The first victim was a 3-year-old boy who died in June. He and the other fatality, a 6-year-old girl, were not related but they lived in the same apartment building in Hildale.
The source of the outbreak in Hildale, UT, remains under investigation, according to health department spokesman David Heaton who is quoted in local media reports.
Heaton told the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper on Tuesday that the public alert about raw milk and “recently purchased ground beef” is a standard warning and that there is not a confirmed link to such products. He also told the newspaper there could be multiple sources for the E. coli, or the original patient could have contaminated food or surfaces, resulting in additional people becoming infected.
Many news outlets have noted a bit too often that the E. coli outbreaks victims come from Hildale, which is the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which broke off from the main Mormon church in 1913 and continues the practice of polygamy. The original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints discontinued plural marriages in 1890.
My response is that all of us – regardless of politics or religion – need to do all we can to combat E. coli.