Family Farm Visit: Wonderful Time Leads to a Horrible Outcome
Amanda Collins and her 18 month old daughter thoroughly enjoyed their visit to Oak Leaf Farm on March 13th. “I walked right in. Me loving farms, I held the goats, pet the goats and brought my daughter into the stall,” Collins. a Manchester resident, recounted. She also mentioned that the knowledgeable staff added to their experience.
Collins saw a number of children and their parents at the farm also petting the goats. The visit “was a wonderful time that led to a horrible outcome,” she said.
After a few days passed since they had visited the farm, Collins began to experience symptoms. Her daughter showed no symptoms at the time, and so she initially chalked things up to a stomach bug. After her daughter began to experience the same symptoms, however, Collins knew something was wrong.
An already bad situation turned worse on Friday, when Collins “ended up having intestinal pain, diarrhea, [and] seeing bloody stool.” Worse than that was seeing her daughter developing the same symptoms: “just seeing her go through the same thing that I physically felt myself [was] agonizing.”
Both Collins and her daughter made trips to the doctor’s office, and both ultimately ended up in the emergency room. Medical personnel conducted tests that showed both had developed E. coli infections. At first, Collins didn’t know where she and her daughter had come into contact with the bacteria.
That’s when the CDC called.
The contact from the agency, Collins said, is “when it clicked and I was like I did visit a farm and I had a lot of interaction with the animals.” The realization was understandably hard on the 18 month old’s mother. “I cried a lot,” she said, and “was very anxious.” She felt upset about the situation, but never held it against the farm.
Collins took steps to prevent bacterial contamination, making sure both her and her daughter used hand sanitizer at the farm. She even went as far as to use wet wipes once they reached the car at the end of their visit.
The family refuses to let the incident deter them from visiting farms in the future. “I was upset about it at first,” said Collins, “but never angry at the farm.”
Collins has only one request for the farm: “please build a facility where people can wash their hands because I think that will stop a lot [of bacteria] from spreading.”
Oak Leaf Farm E. coli Outbreak Sickens 15, Leads to 3 Hospitalizations
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced an expanded investigation into an E. coli outbreak that had led to 15 cases and 3 hospitalizations as of Monday, March 28th. Investigators identified Oak Leaf Farm of Lebanon, Connecticut, as the source for the outbreak. 14 of the 15 cases had direct links to the farm.
The median age of people sickened in the outbreak is 6 years old, reflecting the petting zoo-like activities responsible for the infections. Five people were initially hospitalized, and three children remain hospitalized at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Two of those children developed a condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which results in the formation of clots in the very small vessels of the kidney. HUS can ultimately cause total kidney failure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a team to engage in a collaborative investigation with the DPH, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, and the Uncas Health District.
Officials first identified the outbreak last Thursday, March 24th, when DPH noted that six of seven individuals with E. coli recently came into contact with goats on Oak Leaf Farm.
Continued Public Help Critical to Investigation, Officials Say
DPH Commissioner Raul Pino stated that the agency has “received numerous phone calls and emails over the last several days from people who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March.” The calls received by DPH, people who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March” are “highly valuable to our ongoing investigation.” T, s includes calls “both from individuals that may have been sickened and from individuals who have had no symptoms.”
“I continue to encourage anyone who visited the farm in March and developed symptoms of this illness to contact their physician. Additionally, I ask anyone who visited the farm in March to email or call DPH to let us know when you visited and if you or your family members have experienced any symptoms of E. coli,” Pino implored.
The Department of Health is urging the public to contact the agency if they visited the farm during the month of March, stating that anyone “who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March is encouraged to contact DPH at 860-509-7994 or email@example.com.”