Panhandle Health District: E.Coli Diagnosed At Local Camp - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Panhandle Health District: E.Coli Diagnosed At Local Camp

RELEASE FROM PANHANDLE HEALTH DISTRICT: Five staff workers at Camp Lutherhaven on Lake Coeur d'Alene tested positive for E.coli this week, but none have required hospitalization. Preliminary tests identified the bacteria in the five staff workers as Shiga Toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) Type 1. Further tests on one specimen indicate that it's 026, the second most common type of STEC in Idaho.

All five experienced abdominal cramping and diarrhea; one reported bloody diarrhea. Some experienced nausea as well. None experienced complications associated with this type of E.coli. The five staff workers worked in the camp kitchen and four were food handlers during the camp's start-off week June 19 to June 24.

They were excluded from kitchen duty as soon as their illnesses were known. The five also shared living quarters. "I'm thankful we caught it when we did," said Bob Baker, Camp Lutherhaven executive director. "We've put everything in place to stop this in its tracks."

Since the start of the camping season, 60 staff workers and 300 campers have stayed at Lutherhaven. Panhandle Health District inspected the camp kitchen June 27 and found it "far above the standard for cleanliness and excellence in running a kitchen," according to the resulting report.

The camp immediately intensified hand-washing procedures for everyone and began spritzing a diluted bleach solution on chairs, counters, kitchen equipment, bathrooms, door and drawer handles.

The source of the infection is under investigation. E.coli spreads through undercooked beef or unpasteurized milk, fruits and vegetables fertilized or irrigated with contaminated water, poor hygiene and contaminated lakes, wells and swimming pools.

Camp has remained open. All guests, campers and staff who were at the site from the end of May have been notified about the symptoms of E.coli and encouraged to see a doctor immediately if they experience symptoms.

Symptoms of an E.coli infection appear from two to 10 days after exposure. The last staff worker laboratory-confirmed with STEC fell ill on June 24. To help prevent E.coli STEC infections:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers and before preparing or eating food. Wash your hands after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard).
  2. Cook meats thoroughly. Ground beef and meat that has been needle-tenderized should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70˚C. It's best to use a thermometer, as color is not a very reliable indicator of "doneness."
  3. Avoid raw milk, unpasteurized dairy products, and unpasteurized juices (such as fresh apple cider).
  4. Avoid swallowing water when swimming or playing in lakes, ponds, streams, swimming pools, and backyard "kiddie" pools.
  5. Prevent cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat.
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