Origin of local E. coli case remains a mystery

While it is still unknown how a 6-year-old Moffat County boy contracted E. coli, the case is just about closed, a state official said Monday.

The Colorado Department of Health and Environment has been conducting an investigation into 22 reported cases of E. Coli in Colorado.

One of those cases involves a 6-year-old Moffat County boy.

Because it has been weeks since a new case was reported, the case is about to come to a close, a state official said.

"We don't expect to see any more cases," said Karen Gieseker, a communicable disease epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health. "It looks like we can think about wrapping this case up."

But the question still remains of how the Moffat County boy contracted the illness.

"We did not figure out where he got it," Gieseker said. "When you have a three- to five-day incubation period, sometimes we cannot link everything together to figure out where someone contracted it. Trying to figure out exactly every place the person ate can be difficult."

The department did what it could, she said.

"Basically we can say an investigation was done and where the exposure occurred is undeterminable," she said.

When the outbreak occurred more than a month ago, Safeway stores originally did a recall on ground beef sold in its stores from June 7 to June 18, but later expanded that recall from May 12 to July 17.

But local Safeway Manager Chuck Sadvar had said none of the meat involved in the recall had been sent to the Craig Safeway Store.

E. coli can cause bloody diarrhea and intense abdominal cramps. Some individuals may develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which usually requires being hospitalized. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable.

Patti Klocker, the deputy director of the Department of Health's Consumer Protection Division, said simple precautions can be taken to avoid E. coli infection.

"Use a food thermometer when cooking hamburgers and make certain they reach a temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in the center," she said. "Cooking hamburgers completely will kill any harmful bacteria that exists."

For more information on E. coli, people can call the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment at (303) 692-2700.

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