A fifth case of E. coli infection that may be linked to the Red River Valley Fair in West Fargo, North Dakota has been confirmed by the North Dakota Department of Health. All of the cases are children, all live in eastern North Dakota, and four of the five patients have been hospitalized.
The investigation into the cause of the outbreak is ongoing. Anyone who attended the fair and has been sick with the symptoms of an E. coli infection is asked to fill out a survey on the North Dakota Department of Health website, even if you are feeling better. Those symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery. They usually appear within 10 days after exposure.
If someone in your household was sick and other are not, also fill out the form; information about those not sickened can help pinpoint the cause of the illness. You can also contact the NDDoH at 701-328-2378 or toll-free in-state at 866-367-9769.
The fair was held July 7 through July 12, 2015. Investigators do not know if the illnesses were caused by exposure to the environment, or if contaminated food and/or drink was the cause.
Complications of an E. coli infection can be serious. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is the most common complication. It is more likely to occur in children under the age of 5. HUS can cause kidney damage, kidney failure, seizures, strokes, and death. It’s critical that anyone with an E. coli infection visit a doctor and receive the proper diagnosis, since antibiotics can make the infection worse and can increase the risk of HUS development.
E. coli outbreaks at local, county, and state fairs are unfortunately common. Last year an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Zerebko Zoo Tran sickened dozens of people in Minnesota. Another E. coli outbreak at the Milk Makers Festival in Whatcom County, Washington, that was held at the Northwest Fairgrounds sickened at least 36 children. And in 2012, an E. coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina sickened 106 people; and one child died as a result.