ST. PAUL, Minn. –An investigation is underway into an E. coli outbreak connected to the Minnesota State Fair.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) says 11 Minnesota residents attended the State Fair before getting sick. They reported visiting the Fair between August 25 and September 2, then becoming ill between August 29 and September 6. The victims range in age from 2 to 43 years. Six of them were hospitalized, and one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal complication. One person remains in the hospital.
MDH State Public Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel says there is little chance of the outbreak spreading since the Fair is over but they want to make sure anyone with symptoms gets the proper treatment.
“These infections can have serious health impacts and there is always a chance that an ill person can pass along the infection to others through close contact,” says Schefte. “Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider. E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this might lead to serious complications.”
Most of the people who got sick reported visiting the Miracle of Birth exhibit and having contact with calves, goats, sheep or piglets. However, some had no direct contact with animals and may have been exposed through contact with contaminated surfaces like fence rails.
Symptoms of E. coli O157 infection typically include stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade or no fever. People typically become ill two to five days after exposure, but this can range from one to eight days. Most people recover in five to 10 days but E. coli O157 infections sometimes lead to serious complications like hemolytic uremic syndrome. Those most at risk include children under 10 years of age, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems.
Approximately 130 cases of E. coli O157 are reported each year in Minnesota.