In a follow-up on a report two weeks ago on an outbreak of  gastrointestinal illness linked to the Rifle Rodeo at the Garfield County Fairgrounds in Colorado, Garfield County health officials report receiving confirmation of the cause of illness from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment lab.

Lab samples sent to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment came back positive for Clostridium perfringens – a leading cause of foodborne illness.

Image/geralt via pixabay
Image/geralt via pixabay

Case interviews of rodeo attendees linked the source of the illness to food served by an unlicensed vendor at the event. Approximately eighty people reported becoming ill after attending the Rifle Rodeo, a privately-organized event at the Garfield County Fairgrounds Monday, June 5. Approximately 200 people attended the rodeo.

“The Rifle Rodeo is a privately-organized event. It should be noted that this particular food vendor has a primary location that has been inspected, is licensed and is regulated. In the case of the Rifle Rodeo, temporary event and coordinator permits were not submitted, therefore Garfield County Public Health was not aware of or able to inspect food at the event prior to the June 5 outbreak,” said Yvonne Long, Executive Director, Garfield County Public Health.

The vendor wasn’t named by the health department; however, commenters on social media said they had eaten pulled pork sandwiches at the event.

If a vendor fails to pull required permits, has an outbreak, or has areas of improvement noted on a health inspection, local health delivers written notification and works with the entity on safety regulations.

Clostridium perfringens is a type of bacteria that can be found in a variety of foods, particularly meats, meat products, and gravy. Complications from C. perfingens occur when food is left at an unsafe temperature, and bacteria multiply in the food prior to consumption.

Emetic toxins produced by Clostridium perfringens bacteria are characterized by intense abdominal cramps and diarrhea which begin 8-22 hours after consumption of foods containing large numbers of those Clostridium perfringens bacteria capable of producing the toxin. The illness is usually over within 24 hours but less severe symptoms may persist in some individuals for 1 or 2 weeks.