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A public health department on Tuesday said the number of E. coli cases in Hildale had increased to 11, and issued a warning to residents there about consuming raw milk and ground beef.
The outbreak, which began last month, has already killed two children. A July 3 alert from the Southwest Utah Public Health Department said six cases of E. coli had been confirmed in Hildale.
David Heaton, a spokesman for the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, Tuesday said most of the cases are children. That has public health officials and physicians worried, he said, because this particular strain of E. coli has been shown to cause kidney failure in kids.
"We're hoping the care these kids are receiving will prevent that," Heaton said.
Epidemiologists are still seeking the source of the outbreak. Heaton said it's possible there are multiple sources or that the original patient contaminated other food or surfaces to spread the bacteria.
The health department on Tuesday issued a warning to residents in Hildale and the surrounding area not to consume raw milk or "previously purchased ground beef until further notice." Heaton said that is a standard warning to help reduce the spread of E. coli; there's no confirmation those products have sickened anyone.
Previous updates have said there was no sign of E. coli in Hildale's water system.
Linda Fullerton, the mother of a 6-year-old Gabriella Fullerton, who died June 30 from complications from E. coli, and who was sickened, too, has said she suspects dirty diapers thrown in the yard of her housing complex in Hildale. A dog would tear the diapers open, Fullerton said, and some of the residents tried to clean up the mess.
A 3-year-old boy who also lived at the Hildale housing complex reportedly died earlier in June, three days after being taken to a Las Vegas hospital with symptoms of E. coli poisoning, including stomach pains and diarrhea, Fullerton has said. The boy's name has not been disclosed.
Heaton on Tuesday said the health department is still investigating whether the diapers could have been a cause, but he added that the newest patients did not live in the housing complex.
Hildale and adjoining, Colorado City, Ariz., collectively known as Short Creek, are home to the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The E. coli patients previously identified had no connection to the church. It was not clear Tuesday whether the new patients had church connections.