Confirmed cases of E. coli from San Diego County climbs to 10

A building closed sign, and don’t forget to wash you hands sign, are on the doors to the building, June 29, 2019 in Del Mar, California at the San Diego County Fair, that had housed the petting zoo animals. It was closed after an E. coli outbreak in the petting zoo that claimed the life of a two-year-old boy, and sickened others.
(Howard Lipin/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The number of confirmed cases of E. coli that might be tied to animals at this year’s San Diego County Fair has risen to 10, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency said Wednesday, July 10.

The agency also said there is one probable case of E. coli from the outbreak, which hospitalized three people and killed a 2-year-old boy.

The county initially reported on June 28 that it had four confirmed or probable pediatric cases of the Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) “that may be related to contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair.” On Friday, health officials said the total number of cases identified in the E. coli outbreak had reached seven.

The victims included the 2-year-old child and three other children between 2 and 13 who attended the fair between June 8 and June 15. They began showing symptoms between June 10 and June 16.

“The source of the E. coli bacteria is under investigation, but all children were reported to have visited the animal areas, the petting zoo, or had other animal contact at the San Diego Fair,” the HHA said.

County health officials said they re-inspected food facilities visited by the children “and found no link to the case.”

The fair closed on July 4.

Tim Fennell, CEO of the Del Mar Fairgrounds, said last week that the E. coli outbreak was — to his knowledge — the first to ever occur at the San Diego County Fair, which was earlier known as the Del Mar Fair.

County health officials said that people with a STEC infection “usually start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illness can start anywhere from one to 10 days following exposure. Symptoms vary, but often include: Severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting.”

If there is a fever associated with the illness, it is usually less than 101 degrees Fahrenheit and recovery time is between five and seven days. Infections, they said, “can be severe or life-threatening.” To help prevent the infection, frequent handwashing is recommended.

Health officials said that people should contact their health care provider if they have experienced these symptoms on or after June 8, especially if they had diarrhea lasting more than three days or diarrhea with a fever higher than 102 degrees.

— Gary Robbins and Alex Riggins are reporters for The San Diego Union-Tribune