E. Coli Infections Cause Health Department to Investigate
The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating multiple E. coli infections that occurred at a local pumpkin patch and petting zoo. E. coli was transmitted after individuals had contact with the livestock, namely the cattle and/or goats, or their surrounding areas.
Facts and Concerns of the E. Coli Infection Episode
- The St. Michael Patch reports that the Minnesota Department of Health (DOH) has uncovered that three children were infected with E. coli after visiting Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, Minnesota.
- The children ranged from ages 15 months to 7 years; one is hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a more serious complication of the infection, while the other two are recovering out of the hospital.
- These children visited the farm on October 12 or 13 and came down the with symptoms on October 16 or 18; the DOH is looking into potential infections in other visitors since that time.
- All known infections are said to have been from contact with the animals.
E. Coli Transmission, Symptoms and Prevention
- People typically become ill from contact with farm animals or their environment by getting bits of feces on their hands after touching the animals or contaminated surfaces, then swallowing the germs while eating, drinking or during other hand-to-mouth activities.
- Contamination can be present on the fur or in the saliva of animals, on the ground where the animals are kept, or on surfaces such as fence railings of animal pens.
- Symptoms of the E. coli illness typically include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools; typically little or no fever.
- People usually become ill 2 to 5 days after exposure, but this time period can range from 1 to 8 days.
- Most people recover in 5 to 10 days; however, E. coli infections sometimes lead to Hemolytic-uremic syndrome, most commonly in children and the elderly, which can result in organ failure and death.
- Infections should NOT be treated with antibiotics, as this practice might promote the development of HUS.
- DOH advises the important of patrons washing their hands immediately after contact with zoo animals to prevent contracting the illness.
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