HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The Connecticut Department of Health is asking for the public’s help in tracking the latest outbreak of E. coli bacteria infection. Since early March, the DPH says seven cases have been confirmed and most of the sick are children between the ages of 2 and 10.
“The symptoms of E. coli infection for most people are fever, diarrhea, sometimes bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain,” said Dr. Matthew Cartter, Director of Infectious Diseases with the CT Dept. of Public Health.
Two children are currently hospitalized with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a severe kidney condition that can result from the E. coli infection.
“This can sometimes be seen with these E. coli infections and it affects the kidneys. And, these two patients, the two children are still, still need to be under therapy in the hospital so they may be there for some time,” said Dr. Cartter
Authorities think the source of the infections is at the Oak Leaf Dairy Farm in Lebanon, a goat farm that allows visitors. Several agencies are conducting an investigation to determine if the bacteria was contracted through direct contact with animals or feces or if it is found in animal products sold or consumed at the farm.
“We know that all of these people had a direct exposure to this farm and they come from multiple towns and it’s the only common link that they have between them,” said Dr. Cartter.
Doctors say farms and petting zoos can be hot spots for germs and bacteria. Here are some ways doctors say you can help protect your family from e. coli bacteria:
- Look around and make sure there’s a hand washing station available.
- Use soap and water and wash for at least 20 seconds.
- Do not dry hands on clothing, use paper towels or an air dryer instead.
- Keep alcohol based hand sanitizer on hand just in case.
- Do not bring snacks or drinks into the animal areas.
- Leave strollers, toys, pacifiers, and bottles outside the animal pens.
- Keep an eye on children to make sure they aren’t sucking on their fingers or putting their hands in their mouths.
The DPH says until the exact source of the E. coli can be determined, the farm is closed to the public. They’re asking anyone who visited the farm in March, whether they feel ill or not, to contact them.