The Mount Baker Kennel Club dog show had to alter plans after state health officials restricted events at the Lynden fairgrounds after an E. coli outbreak.
State health officials have restricted events at the Lynden, Whatcom County, fairgrounds dairy barn, where an outbreak of dangerous E. coli sickened dozens last month, to prevent potential spread of additional illness.
Dr. Scott Lindquist, the Washington state epidemiologist for communicable diseases, said the move is a precaution while county, state and federal officials determine the source of the outbreak that sent at least eight people to hospitals.
“We’re recommending they not have any more events until we’ve finished our investigation,” Lindquist said, referring to the dairy barn.
The request immediately affects a dog show planned for Saturday by the Mount Baker Kennel Club, expected to attract 800 canines and more than 2,000 people to the Northwest Washington Fair & Event Center.
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“It is a problem,” said Shirley Stiles, the group’s president, who learned Tuesday that some features of the event planned for months have to be moved away from the site’s dairy barn.
There are no other scheduled events that should be affected by the request, said Jim Baron, who manages the site.
Stiles said she understood and applauded health officials’ efforts to make sure no one else got sick at the site where more than 1,300 first-graders were exposed to Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157: H7.
The outbreak followed the annual Milk Makers Fest held April 21-23. At least 15 people contracted lab-confirmed infections, with eight hospitalized and three who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a life-threatening complication of E. coli illness.
About 30 others are still being tested. Whatcom County health officials originally estimated as many as 47 people were sickened, but they’ve changed the way the cases are defined.
Investigators with the state, the county and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are examining potential sources of the outbreak, an effort expected to last at least two weeks.