A 2-year-old boy died on June 24 due to an E. coli infection he picked up after visiting the animal areas at San Diego County Fair. Three other children fell ill, according to health officials.
The County Health and Human Services Agency reported that four children from 2 to 13 years old were infected with E. coli after visiting the Del Mar Fairgrounds from June 8 to June 15, according to 10News San Diego.
The health officials said three of the four children did not need to be sent to the hospital after they reported symptoms from June 10 to June 16.
All the children including the one who died were infected with the Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), reported Fox5.
“Our sympathies go out to the family of the child that died from this illness,” said Wilma J. Wooten, county public health officer, according to Fox5.
“While most people recover from this illness without complications, 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with STEC develop the life-threatening kidney infection,” Wooten said.
San Diego County Fair CEO Tim Fennell also offered his condolences to the dead child’s family in a press conference on Friday night.
“Our hearts, our prayers, our thoughts go out to the family and friends of this child,” Fennell said, according to CBS8.
— FOX 5 San Diego (@fox5sandiego) June 29, 2019
After an inspection of the food outlets, the County Department of Environmental Health didn’t find any link between the infection and the food outlets at the fair that the children visited.
While health officials are still investigating the source of the infection, all the infected children reportedly visited the animal areas of the county fair, the petting zoo, or had some other contact with them.
“Safety is and will continue to be our number one priority,” said Katie Mueller, San Diego County Fair Deputy General Manager, according to CBS8.
CBS 8 reported that San Diego County Fair will continue until July 4 and all the animal areas including the petting zoo have been closed to the public.
Infections and Symptoms of E. Coli
The symptoms of an E. coli infection vary from person to person but generally include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting, according to CDC.
People usually get sick and show symptoms three to four days after ingesting the infected product and most recover within a week’s time.
“Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure,” said the CDC.
— #rivercountrynews (@RCNPublisher) June 28, 2019
According to CDC statistics from 2010 to 2015, 100 cases of E. coli infection were reported in people after they visited a petting zoo, fair, or an educational farm.
Chances of catching an infection increase when people don’t wash their hands after visiting a petting zoo, or carry their food to the zoo or any other area that has contact with animals.
“Running water and soap are best, but if they are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol and wash your hands with soap and running water as soon as you can,” the CDC said.
Four cases of E.coli bacteria linked to San Diego County Fair. pic.twitter.com/0PhAvcYiSQ
— SanDiegoCounty (@SanDiegoCounty) June 29, 2019
It said not to eat and drink around animals and to supervise children around animals. In particular, children 5 years of age and younger should be kept away from reptiles, amphibians, or live poultry.
“Don’t share your food with the animals, even if you think the food is part of the animal’s regular diet. Animals should eat the food provided for them by the animal exhibit,” said the CDC.