OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say the source of a gastrointestinal illness outbreak in Caddo and Custer counties remains a mystery.

The outbreak of the Campylobacter and Shiga-toxin producing E. coli was identified on Oct. 25 in the Hydro and Weatherford area.

OSDH says to date, there have been 53 confirmed cases directly associated with the outbreak with over a quarter of those cases requiring hospitalization, including four cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The OSDH worked in partnership with local community leaders, other state agencies and a CDC team, but despite multiple surveys and environmental sample testing, health leaders have been unable to identify the cause of the outbreak.

“According to the CDC results, their analysis of the epidemiologic data and environmental testing did not implicate a single food, water or event that could serve as a source of infection for this outbreak.”

Oklahoma State Department of Health

“It is the reality that in some public health investigations like this, it is possible a source will not be identified,” said State Epidemiologist Jolianne Stone. “We can’t guarantee we won’t see more illnesses, especially since cases of Campy and STEC are seen at a baseline level through the year, however the OSDH continues to monitor for new or an increase of cases.”

Thankfully, OSDH officials say cases have decreased substantially since the start of the outbreak and the risk of contracting illness is reduced.

The OSDH recommends to further reduce the risk of exposure to possible illness the community
practices good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water:

  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the toilet
  • After handling animals, their food, or their environment
  • After coming in from outside

Health leaders say anyone experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and muscle aches should seek medical care. Consider asking your healthcare provider to test for common stomach illnesses caused by bacteria.

Individuals experiencing the symptoms above should avoid public areas until 24 hours after symptoms have gone away.

For further questions, please contact 211, the Custer County Health Department at 580-772-6417 or Caddo County Health Department 405-247-2507.