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Published On: Sat, Oct 27th, 2012

Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch and petting zoo suspected source of E. coli cases in Cowlitz County, WA

Cowlitz County health officials are investigating a confirmed and suspected case of E Coli 0157:H7 infection in children who visited the Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch and petting zoo earlier in October, according to a Cowlitz County Health and Human Services press release.

Public domain photo/ DimiTalen at the wikipedia project

Health officials say one of the children was hospitalized for several days but is now recovering. Laboratory testing is still pending on the second child.

According to a TDN.com report,  Cowlitz County Public Health Officer Alan Melnick, MD, MPH said, “The only thing the two children had in common was the petting zoo.”

Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch and petting zoo is located at Longview, Washington is a certified organic farm operated by Michael and Ruth McKee.

Mrs. McKee told TDN.com that in the 28 years the couple has operated the farm, “we’ve never had a sick person ever,” she said. “We try really, really hard, but crap happens.”

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.

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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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