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The World in Medicine
April 14, 1999

E Coli on the Farm

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JAMA. 1999;281(14):1262. doi:10.1001/jama.281.14.1262-JWM90002-4-1

It's a touching dilemma: kids are naturally attracted to all kinds of animals, but visits to their barnyard friends inhabiting open farms in the United Kingdom (UK) could expose children to virulent Escherichia coli O157:H7.

A new study from UK public health officials describes how three children were infected with the Vero cytotoxin-producing strain of E coli in 1997 after contact with farm animals. Two of the children, a 6-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy, visited the same farm as part of a school-sponsored trip. A 7-year-old boy who lived on the farm and helped with cleaning calf pens and ear tagging of calves also became ill. Genetic analysis showed isolates from the children were the same as those found in cattle and goats on the farm. All of the children survived, but two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and one suffered severe neurological impairment.

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