ST. PAUL — State health officials on Tuesday, Sept. 17, reported an E. coli infection outbreak believed to have originated from the Minnesota State Fair.
Eleven Minnesota residents who attended the Minnesota State Fair have tested positive for E. coli 0157, state investigators announced in a news release. The 11 attended the fair between Aug. 25 and Sept. 2 and became ill in the days following their visits.
Six of those individuals were hospitalized and one developed a potentially fatal complication, department of health officials said. One person remains hospitalized. The people identified with the sickness ranged in age from 2 to 43.
Department heads said they are working with fair officials to track down the source of the outbreak. And initial evidence indicates that the infection was contracted after interacting with livestock. Most of those infected said they visited the Miracle of Life exhibit and touched calves, goats, sheep or piglets.
Others could have contracted the infection after touching infected rails or surfaces.
Early lab tests showed that the strains of E. coli 0157 were closely related, state health officials said, but additional testing will continue in an effort to determine the source of the infections.
“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,” State Public Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel said in a news release. “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.”
Symptoms of the infection include stomach cramps, diarrhea, bloody stool and low-grade fever. The infection can occasionally lead to serious complications, especially in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Children with diarrhea shouldn't attend childcare to avoid the spread of infection.
And others should wash their hands after changing diapers, using the bathroom and eating to avoid ingesting the infection, which can be passed through a person's stool weeks or months after symptoms subside.
For more information about E. coli can be found at the Minnesota Department of Health's website.