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News From the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 9, 2001

Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infections Among Children Associated With Farm Visits—Pennsylvania and Washington, 2000

JAMA. 2001;285(18):2320-2322. doi:10.1001/jama.285.18.2320

MMWR. 2001;50:293-297

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During the spring and fall of 2000, outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among school children in Pennsylvania and Washington resulted in 56 illnesses and 19 hospitalizations. Illness was associated with school and family visits to farms where children came into direct contact with farm animals. This report summarizes the findings of investigations of these outbreaks and includes strategies to reduce the transmission of enteric pathogens from farm animals to children.

During September-November 2000, the Montgomery County Health Department (MCHD) identified 51 persons who had diarrhea within 10 days of visiting a dairy farm (farm A) in Montgomery County. Fifteen (29%) persons had either E coli O157 isolated from stool specimens or hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS); patients ranged in age from 1-52 years (median: 4 years), 26 (51%) were male, and dates of illness onset ranged from September 4 to November 8. Symptoms reported by the 51 patients included bloody diarrhea (37%), fever (45%), and vomiting (45%); 16 (31%) patients were hospitalized and eight (16%) developed HUS. E coli O157 isolates were indistinguishable by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and produced both Shiga toxins 1 and 2.