November 12, 2019

Officials Say There May Be Another E. coli Case at San Diego County Fair

A new, unconfirmed case of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) illness that may be related to animals at the San Diego County Fair has been reported, according to the County of San Diego Health and Human Services. Lab results have confirmed a previously reported case.

Officials Say There May Be Another E. coli Case at San Diego County Fair

The new case is a 6-year-old boy who attended animal displays at the fair in June 2019 and started showing symptoms of the infection on June 26, 2019. He was not hospitalized and is recovering.

There have been a total of five cases linked to contact with animals at the fair. Four are confirmed by lab tests and one is a probable case.

Dr. Wilma Wooten, M.P.H., County public health officer said in a statement, “As we continue our investigation, more cases are likely to be reported. This is typical of any public health investigation. Since we asked doctors to be on the lookout for STEC, they are more likely to test patients exhibiting symptoms.”

This outbreak has led to the death of a 2-year-old boy. Since this outbreak was discovered, county health officials have recommended that the San Diego County Fair close all animal exhibits to the public.

Environmental samples have been collected. Results from these specimens are not expected until the San Diego County Fair closes. But since the incubation period for E. coli infection is up to 10 days after exposure, and reporting a case to the health department can take a couple of weeks, more cases could be reported through the middle of next week.

Symptoms of an E. coli infection include a mild fever, serious and painful abdominal cramps, and diarrhea that may be bloody and watery. Wooten said, “If you start to develop these symptoms, contact your doctor. Especially if you have diarrhea that lasts for more than three days or diarrhea that is accompanied by a fever higher than 102˚F, or blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.”

Symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of this infection that is a form of kidney failure, include little or no urine output, lethargy, and easy bruising. This complication most often occurs when the patient is under the age of 5, and can be life-threatening.

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