The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today said it is investigating an outbreak of seven confirmed cases of E.coli and two cases of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Patients sickened in this outbreak range in age from 2 to 25. DPH has confirmed at this point that six of the seven patients recently visited the Oak Leaf Dairy Farm, a goat farm in Lebanon, CT. As a precaution, Oak Leaf Farm is currently not permitting the public to visit the animals.
“Earlier today, DPH was informed of several patients from Southeastern Connecticut who have become ill with E.coli,” said DPH Commissioner Raul Pino. “We are closely monitoring the situation and working with our partners at the CDC and other relevant stakeholders. We will continue to work diligently to provide the public with the information it needs as we investigate.”
E.coli is a bacterium that is found in animal and human feces and in foods. The particular strain a bacteria found in this outbreak is E.coli O157. Typical symptoms can include abdominal cramping, watery diarrhea, frequently bloody, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. Symptoms usually resolve over several days. The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals and after going to the bathroom and by thoroughly cooking meats and washing fruits and vegetables. E.coli can easily spread, especially among household members, if proper handwashing is not consistently used.
“We strongly encourage anyone who visited the farm in March and developed symptoms of this illness to contact their physician,” added Dr. Pino.
Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a rare but serious illness that affects the kidneys and blood clotting system. It can develop in some patients who have been sickened with E.coli. It is more common in children than in adults and may be mild or severe. In severe cases, kidney function is greatly reduced, and dialysis may be necessary.
DPH is currently coordinating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Uncas Health District and the state Department of Agriculture to determine how the patients became ill.
Further updates will be made publicly available as the investigation proceeds.
For more information, on E.coli and HUS: http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3136&q=388334 (HUS)