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Published On: Sun, Oct 27th, 2013

Minnesota: Three people infected with E. coli O157:H7 linked to Dehn’s Pumpkins animals

Three Minnesota residents have become ill with confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections after contact with animals at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported Saturday.

Public domain photo/Trisha M Shears via Wikimedia Commons

Public domain photo/Trisha M Shears via Wikimedia Commons

According to health officials, the three cases were all children, ranging in age from 15 months to 7 years and are residents of the Twin Cities metro area. One child is hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection characterized by kidney failure.

The others were not hospitalized and are recovering. Routine monitoring by the health department identified the E. coli O157:H7 cases, which all have bacterial isolates with the same DNA fingerprint. These cases visited the farm on October 12 or 13, and became ill on October 16 or 18.

All of the cases reported having contact with cattle and/or goats at Dehn’s.

The MDH is in the process of following up with any groups that visited the farm in order to help determine if more people have become ill.

At this time, two additional people have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infection and are currently being tested. These people visited Dehn’s on October 18, raising concern that exposures also could have occurred after the weekend of October 12-13.

E. coli is a type of bacteria commonly found in the intestines and feces of animals, including cattle, goats, sheep, deer and elk, or in raw meat from these animals. Some of these bacteria produce a toxin, called Shiga toxin, which can make humans severely ill.

Symptoms of the diseases caused by E.coli O157:H7 include abdominal cramps and diarrhea that may in some cases progress to bloody diarrhea. The infection may lead to a life-threatening disease, such as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). HUS is characterized by acute renal failure, hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia. It is estimated that up to 10% of patients with E.coli infection may develop HUS, with a case-fatality rate ranging from 3% to 5%.

Anyone can get this illness, but it is particularly dangerous for young children and the elderly. Symptoms may not appear for as many as 10 days after infection.

Farm animals can carry E. Coli 0157:H7 and can shed the bacteria in their stool even if they appear well. It is very easy for the animal hide to become contaminated. Children and adults can get the infection simply by petting the animal or by having other contact that could expose them to animal feces. Any touching of the eyes, nose, and mouth after contact with a contaminated surface including the animal is a major route of infection.

Anyone, children and adults, visiting a petting zoo or having contact with farm animals should wash their hands with soap and water immediately after any contact with animals. Supervise young children to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly.

Anyone who visited Dehn’s Pumpkins since October 12, 2013 and becomes ill should see their health care provider immediately and inform them of the visit to the farm. E. coli O157:H7 is a reportable condition, so doctors will report it to the Health Department.

Health authorities say the farm owners have been cooperating fully with the investigation and public access to the cattle and goat areas is being prohibited.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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