The Connecticut State Department of Public Health (DPH) issued an update on the E. coli outbreak linked to Oak Leaf Farm in Lebanon. As of 1:00 p.m. on March 28, 2016, there are 15 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 infection. The number of cases could increase in the next few days. DPH is actively identifying people who were not initially included in the outbreak count.
Fourteen of those cases are linked to the farm. The patients range in age from 1 year to 44 years old, with a median age of six. Five patients have been hospitalized, and three are still in the hospital. Two of those hospitalized patients have been diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Children are most susceptible to this complication of an E. coli infection, but the report did not state how old those patients are.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are now involved in the investigation. Officials from the Connecticut DPH, the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, the Uncas Health District, and the CDC are conducting an onsite investigation at Oak Leaf Farm. The Farm is voluntarily closed, and the owners are cooperating with investigators.
DPH Commissioner Raul Pino said in a statement, “we received numerous phone calls and emails over the last several days from people who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March. Those calls, both from individuals who may have been sickened and from individuals who’ve had no symptoms, are highly valuable to our ongoing investigation. I continue to encourage anyone who visited the Farm in March and developed symptoms of this illness to contact their physician. Additionally, I ask anyone who visited the Farm in March to email or call DPH to let us know when you visited and if you or your family members have experienced any symptoms of E. coli.”
The symptoms of an E. coli O157 infection include a mild fever, diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, severe abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms of HUS include little or no urine output, easy bruising, lethargy, a skin rash, and bleeding from the nose or mouth. Anyone experiencing these symptoms, especially the symptoms of HUS, should see a doctor as soon as possible.
This outbreak was first uncovered on Thursday, March 24, 2016 when six of seven patients sickened with E. coli said they recently visited Oak Leaf Farm and came into contact with goats there. Goats, along with other ruminant animals such as cows, can harbor this pathogenic bacteria and not get sick themselves. They shed the bacteria in their feces, which can get onto their coats. Then, when people pet them or feed them, they can pick up the bacteria on their hands.
If you visited the Farm in March, contact DPH at 860-509-7994 or email the DPH at firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition, anyone who purchased a goat from Oak Leaf Farm in the past month and has any concerns should consult with a veterinarian.