Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database

This database provides summaries of significant food and water related outbreaks occurring since 1984 caused by E. coli, Salmonella, Hepatitis A, Campylobacter and other pathogens. Read more »

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2004 Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 At a Charity Bike Race Church Dinner, Minnesota

Two physicians independently reported individual cases of E. coli O157:H7 to the Minnesota state health department on August 2. The case patients had participated in a recent charity bike ride from Brainerd to St. Joseph, Minnesota. A teammate of one of the original cases was also found to be ill. Ninety percent of the nearly 1000 bikers were contacted via email and asked about illness and activities during the bike ride. Additional illnesses were discovered and confirmed by laboratory testing. The E.coli O157:H7 that was isolated from the ill bikers genetically matched. The genetic subtype of E. coli O157:H7 was unique and had not been recorded in Minnesota or the United States before this outbreak. The food histories found significant risk of illness associated with eating the church sponsored spaghetti dinner served to riders in Park Rapids on July 26. A traceback of the ground beef used to make the spagetti sauce found that it had originated from a custom slaughter operation. This meat had been partially defrosted in the microwave before browning it in a pan. The browned meat was added to a tomato sauce and heated. No thermometers were used to assure proper cooking temperatures. Meat from the same lot was tested and found to contain E. coli O157:H7 of the same genetic pattern. The sauce had been used until 6:45 PM; at this point, it had all been eaten. Additional beef was purchased from a local grocery store to make more sauce; this sauce was served after 6:45 PM. Illness was associated with meals eaten before 6:45 PM. Statistical analysis of the data gathered proved difficult due to the fact that a larger proportion of ill riders likely responded than well ones. The bikers reported fifty illnesses among those who had eaten the implicated spaghetti dinner, but due to non-response the health department estimated an additional twenty cases were probable. This number was found using two different statistical equations.

  • Outbreak began:
  • July 2004
  • Affected Country:
  • US
  • Affected States/Territories:
  • Minnesota
  • Organism(s):
  • E. coli O157:H7
  • Vehicle(s):
  • Beef, Ground Beef
  • Molecular Results Available:
  • Unknown
  • Test Results:
  • None
  • Location(s):
  • Church
  • Brand Name(s):
  • Product Subject to Recall:
  • No
  • Total ill:
  • 70
  • Number ill by Case Definition Known:
  • Yes
  • Number Laboratory Confirmed Cases:
  • 50
  • Number Probable Cases:
  • 20
  • Number Possible Cases:
  • 0
  • Anyone Hospitalized:
  • Yes
  • Number Hospitalized:
  • 1
  • Any Deaths:
  • No
  • Number Dead:
  • 0
  • Any References:
  • Yes

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