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E. Coli Infections Resulted from Not Washing Hands After Animal Handling at Fair

Thursday, August 23, 2001

The 13 people who contracted E. coli 0157:H7 infections at a county fair earlier this month in Port Washington, WI, visited animal barns and then ate without washing their hands, according to Wisconsin state health officials.
Those who became sick touched manure or touched an item that came into contact with manure, said Herb Bostrom, director of the Wisconsin Bureau of Communicable Diseases.
The state examined 52 water samples and six manure samples from the Ozaukee County fairgrounds and found no trace of E. coli. Officials determined the bacteria did not come from food or drinks provided at the fair or from any ponds on the fairgrounds.
In April, CDC issued a warning citing outbreaks of E. coli that sickened dozens of people after visiting a Pennsylvania dairy farm and a Washington petting zoo.
The agency issued new guidelines for open animal exhibits suggesting organizers provide more adequate hand washing facilities and ban hand-to-mouth contact when people are near the animals. Children who became sick in those incidents touched farm animals and then put their hands in their mouths—either by eating or drinking near the animals or by chewing their fingernails or sucking on pacifiers.
For more information, visit http://www.co.ozaukee.wi.us/EColi/EColi.htm.

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