The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced its ongoing investigation of an E. coli outbreak that is believed to be linked to the Minnesota State Fair.
MDH investigators identified 11 cases among Minnesota residents who visited the fair before becoming ill. The residents who fell ill reported visiting the fair between August 25 and September 2, according to the people infected, they began feeling ill between August 29 and September 6. The MDH stated that evidence collected from those infected suggests that contact with livestock is a key factor of the investigation.
The MDH and fair officials are working together to determine the source of the outbreak. Most of those infected reported visiting the “Miracle of Birth” exhibit and having contact with calves, goats, sheep or piglets. Some of those who fell ill did not have direct contact with animals and may have been exposed through contact with contaminated surfaces like tables, chairs, and fence railings.
According to the MDH, bacteria tests from several cases show E. coli O157 strains as factors in the cases. Joni Schefte, an MDH State Public Health Veterinarian, said “These infections can have serious health impacts and there is always a chance that an ill person can pass along the infection to others through close contact… Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider. E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this might lead to serious complications.”
Escherichia coli O157 are some of the hundreds of strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Although most strains are harmless and live in the intestines of healthy humans and animals, these strains produce a powerful toxin and can cause severe illness. Out of those infected by the outbreak, 6 people have been hospitalized and one person has been diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). According to the MDH, people may begin to feel symptoms of E. coli O157 within 2 to 5 days of being exposed to the bacteria. Those infected with E. coli O157 may experience symptoms such as bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and severe stomach cramping.
Zoonotic outbreaks have increased in numbers these last couple of years. One recent E. coli outbreak was linked to the San Diego County Fair petting zoo, in which 11 confirmed cases of E. coli were reported to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. One of the cases, Jedidiah Cabezuela a 2-year-old, died from Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli after his kidneys began failing. Ron Simon, a national E. coli Lawyer who is representing the families affected by the zoonotic outbreak, stated “E. coli illnesses are foodborne related, a small percentage of cases have been tied to other transmission vehicles such as water, animals, ads person-to-person contact. People have become infected by swallowing lake water while swimming, touching the environment in petting zoos and other animal exhibits, and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet.“
For more information about the Minnesota State Fair E. Coli Outbreak, to discuss zoonotic outbreaks or to speak to an E. coli Lawyer call 1-888-335-4901.