DPH is investigating 41 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 infection linked to the farm. The patients range in age from 9 months to 45 years, with a median age of five years. The patients include seven adults and 34 children 18 years old and under; 22 of the children are age five years or under. In total, 10 patients have been hospitalized with one still in the hospital. Three of the hospitalized patients were diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a rare but serious illness that affects the kidneys and blood clotting system. Two of the three children with HUS have recovered and were discharged from the hospital.
The investigation by DPH, Department of Agriculture, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is continuing and expected to last several weeks. DPH, in collaboration with CDC, is planning additional studies to better understand the scope of the outbreak and specific risk factors for illness among persons who visited the farm.
Based on interviews of visitors to the farm conducted by DPH so far, there is no evidence that the milk, cheeses, caramels, lip balms, soaps, and salves sold by the Oak Leaf Dairy were the cause of this E. coli outbreak. The milk and cheese products were pasteurized. Pasteurization heats milk to a high temperature for a short time, which kills the bacteria that cause illness.
People infected with E. coli or those with a family member infected with E. coli should follow these precautions:
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after using the restroom or changing a child’s diaper.
Wash your hands before and after preparing food for yourself and others.
Stay home from school or work while diarrhea persists; most people can return to work or school when they no longer have diarrhea. Special precautions are needed for food handlers, health care workers, and child care providers and attendees. Check with your employer before returning to work, and check with your child’s child care center before resuming child care.
Oak Leaf Dairy remains closed to the public and its owners are cooperating with the investigation.
The outbreak was first identified on Thursday, March 24th when six of seven individuals sickened with E. coli were confirmed by DPH to have recently visited Oak Leaf Dairy and come into contact with goats on the farm. DPH has been able to determine that the exposures happened between March 6th and March 20th, with onset of symptoms occurring between March 7th and March 24th.
For more information, on E.coli and HUS: