School field trips to a Litchfield, MN farm have resulted in more than 10 cases of diarrheal illness from animal contact, including three cases of laboratory-confirmed Cryptosporidium infection. All of those sickened reported visiting Nelson Farm on a school field trip starting on May 9.
The children sickened are from five different schools, but numerous school groups visited the farm through May 25, so there could be many more children who become ill.
The Minnesota Department of Health is investigating an outbreak and has issued a health advisory to local and tribal health departments, hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers. Stool samples from patients with with vomiting and diarrhea should be tested for bacterial and parasitic pathogens with a specific request for Cryptosporidium, according to the advisory.
Contact with farm animals has been the source of outbreaks associated with a number of pathogens including Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli and Cryptosporidium. E.coli must be ruled out as a source of infection before antibiotics are prescribed as a treatment for diarrheal illness. The use of antibiotics worsens E. coli infections and heightens the risk that patients will develop a life-threatening condition called (HUS).