April 18, 2024

E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN

The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting that three people are ill with confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections after contact with animals at Dehn’s Pumpkins’ petting zoo in Dayton, MN. The three cases are all children, ranging in age from 15 months to 7 years.

One child is hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection that can cause kidney failure. The others were not hospitalized. The children visited the farm on October 12 or 13, 2013, and became ill on October 16 or 18, 2013.

The Department is following up with any groups that visited that farm to discover if anyone else has become ill. Two more people may be part of this outbreak, since they have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infections and are being tested. That group visited Dehn’s on October 18, 2013, which means that exposure to the pathogenic bacteria could have occurred after the weekend of October 12-13.

Petting ZooAll of the patients had contact with cattle and/or goats at Dehn’s. The farm’s owners are cooperating fully with the investigation. Access to the cattle and goat areas is closed, but the rest of the farm, including the pumpkin patch, is open for business.

The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that can be bloody, and low grade fever. People usually become sick two to five days after exposure. Anyone who comes in contact with ruminant animals at any venue are at risk for this infection. Bits of feces contaminated with the bacteria can get onto the animals’ fur or saliva, or the ground or fence railings of animal pens, and transfer to people’s hands.

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.

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