Seven E. coli illnesses linked to Connecticut farm

Visiting animal displays are risky. Some animals shed pathogens in crazy high concentrations. The pathogens move around with foot traffic, sawdust and soil; end up on hand rails, rafters, water bottles and snacks.

Addressing risks is not just about handwashing.

According to the Hartford Courant a cluster of seven cases of pathogenic E. coli are linked to visiting a farm in Connecticut.

Officials said Thursday that six of the seven patients had visited the Oak Leaf Dairy Farm, and as a precaution the farm is not allowing people to visit the animals.

The seven patients are between 2 and 25 years old, according to DPH.

“Earlier today, DPH was informed of several patients from southeastern Connecticut who have become ill with E. coli,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the situation and working with our partners at the CDC and other relevant stakeholders. We will continue to work diligently to provide the public with the information it needs as we investigate.”

Additionally the DPH was notified of two cases of hemolytic ermic syndrome, which affects the kidneys and the bloods ability to clot, officials said. It can develop in patients who have contracted E. coli.

A call to the farm Oak Leaf Dairy Farm was not immediately returned.

A table of petting zoo related outbreaks can be found here.
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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is an associate professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.