The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) announced that an additional eight cases of E. coli, bringing the total number of cases to 15. Oak Leaf Farm of Lebanon, Connecticut has been identified as a common source for 14 of the 15 cases.
The age of those infected with the pathogen ranges from 1 to 44. Th median age of the outbreak cases is 6 years old, reflecting the petting zoo-like activities responsible for the infections.
Five cases of the fifteen cases, or 33%, have been hospitalized. Of those cases, two have been released while three remain in hospital care. Two of the hospitalized cases come from the original seven cases. Both of those individuals developed Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), which results in the formation of clots in the very small vessels of the kidney, ultimately causing acute kidney injury and failure.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a team to Connecticut to investigate the outbreak in conjunction with the Connecticut DPH. Officials from the CDC, Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Connecticut DPH and the Uncas Health District all visited the farm to conduct an onsite investigation into the outbreak.
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.
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, “both from individuals that may have been sickened and from individuals who have had no symptoms, are highly valuable to our ongoing investigation,” he continued.
The farm owners voluntarily closed the establishment and “are cooperating with the investigation,” according to a statement released by DPH.
“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 DPJ to let us know when you visited and if you or your family members have experienced any symptoms of E. coli,” Pino implored.
Symptoms of an E. coli infections generally appear three to four days after exposure to the bacteria, but can appear as early as one day or as late as ten days after encountering the pathogen. Although symptoms of infection are different for each person, they often include diarrhea, which is often bloody, severe stomach cramps, and vomiting. Fever associated with E. coli illness runs low, and rarely exceeds 101˚F.
Symptoms appear gradually, starting with non-bloody diarrhea or mild belly pain worsening over several days. HUS develops when the diarrhea is improving, approximately seven days after exposure.
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 protected]”
The state Department of Agriculture states that “anyone who purchased a goat from Oak Leaf Farm in the past month and has ny concerns should contact their local veterinarian.