A major E. coli O157 outbreak in Connecticut has sickened over 40 people.
Three of the 41 case patients confirmed in this outbreak have suffered HUS kidney failure, a life-threatening complication. The State Department of Public Health in Connecticut has associated these illnesses with Oak Leaf Farm in Lebanon, Conn. Oak Leaf is one of the state’s largest goat farms and people sickened in the outbreak were exposed during visits to the facility between March 4 and March 20. According to health officials, more than half of the Connecticut E. coli victims are children, age 5 or less.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (CDPH) suspects that the illnesses may have been caused by contact with goats on the farm. Health officials have stated that there is no evidence that dairy products produced by the farm caused the E. coli outbreak:
“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” (CDPH).
E. coli Update for Oak Leaf Dairy Visitors
In the Connecticut goat farm outbreak, the E. coli patients range in age from 10 months to 45 years, with a median age of five years. The patients include six adults and 28 children 14 years old and under. In total, 10 patients have been hospitalized. State health officials say the outbreak has spread to three patients who didn’t visit the farm but could have been sickened by accidental fecal-oral contact while caring for an infected child.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has joined the state’s investigation to better understand specific risk factors for illness among people who visited Oak Leaf. That probe could take weeks and the farm has remained closed to the public while the work continues. The first cluster of illnesses showed up March 24, when six of seven individuals sickened with toxic E. coli O157 were confirmed by the state health department as having recently visited Oak Leaf Dairy.