Don’t Eat Where You (or Your Cattle) Sh-t

And I mean that literally (boldface mine):

On April 27, 2015, the Whatcom County Health Department (WCHD) in Bellingham, Washington, was notified by a local laboratory regarding three children with presumptive Escherichia coli O157 infection. WCHD interviewed the parents, who indicated that all three children had attended a dairy education event held in a barn April 20–24, 2015, during a school field trip. WCHD, the Washington State Department of Health, and CDC investigated to determine the magnitude of the outbreak, identify risk factors and potential environmental sources of infection, and develop recommendations. A total of 60 cases (25 confirmed and 35 probable) were identified, and 11 patients were hospitalized….

Food was served inside the barn to adolescents who set up and broke down the event on April 20 and April 24. During April 21–23 approximately 1,000 first-grade students attended the event, which included various activities related to farming. Crude attack rates were higher among those who assisted with setup on April 20 or breakdown on April 24 (three of 14 high school students; 21%) and among attendees on April 21 (22 of 254 students; 9%), than among attendees on April 22 (six of 377 students; 2%) and April 23 (seven of 436 students; 2%).

Animals, including cattle, had been exhibited in the barn during previous events. Before the dairy education event, tractors, scrapers, and leaf blowers were used to move manure to a bunker at the north end of the barn. Environmental samples collected in this area yielded E. coli O157:H7 PFGE patterns indistinguishable from the outbreak strains.

And file this under No Shit Sherlock (couldn’t help myself there…):

This investigation highlighted the importance of implementing infection prevention measures at events held in venues with animals or where animals had been present. Students attending the setup and breakdown might have had higher rates of illness because they consumed food in the barn and might not have washed their hands before eating. Facility cleaning procedures and location of the manure bunker (inside the barn) might have contributed to an increased risk for infection among the attendees.

Although it might not be possible to completely disinfect barns and areas where animals have been kept, standard procedures for cleaning, disinfection, and facility design should be adopted to minimize the risk for exposure to pathogens. These environments should be considered contaminated and should not be located in areas where food and beverages are served. Hands should always be washed with soap and clean running water, and dried with clean towels immediately upon exiting areas containing animals or where animals have been kept previously, after removing soiled clothing or shoes, and before eating or drinking. Event organizers can refer to published recommendations for preventing disease associated with animals in public settings.

Because I haven’t written this in a while: WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS!!

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