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green romaine lettuce with black background

 I was surprised when I heard last month that E.coli cases were on the rise in Wood County, the county I live and work in. Currently, there are 23 known cases of Shiga toxin- producing Escherichia coli (STEC) E. coli identified by our local health department.  This is a huge increase from cases in the past. For example, in the last five and a half years the county has logged 27 E. coli cases. Of the 23 cases to date, 7 people from my community have been hospitalized, with ages ranging from 21- 60. According to the CDC , a specific food has not yet been confirmed as the source of this outbreak, but many sick people reported eating burgers and sandwiches with romaine lettuce before getting sick. Center for Disease Control also reports that E.coli cases  have been found in  Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and New York.

So, you may ask what is  Escherichia coli  (E. coli)? Well, E. coli can be found in intestines of animals and people, our foods and our environment. Most are harmless and can be a part of a healthy immune system. However, some E. coli can cause a lot of harm to the body. It can cause diarrhea, fever, severe vomiting and even kidney problems. Most people with (STEC) infection start to feel ill 3 to 4 days after eating something that contains the bacteria. However, people can feel ill anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure.

 Ways to prevent the spread of E. Coli

                Good Personal Hygiene

A person washing their hands with soap and water
  • Wash hands thoroughly before and after preparing food, after using the restroom and changing diapers.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after contact with animals such as farms, petting zoos, fairs and even your own animal.
  • Wash hands thoroughly before preparing or feeding bottles or foods to an infant or toddler and before touching their mouths, and pacifiers.

Wash fruits and vegetables

  • Wash fruits and vegetables well under running water, unless the package says it has already been washed.

Cook meats thoroughly

  • Cook ground beef a minimum temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Always use a food thermometer to check that the meat has reached a safe  minimum internal temperature.

Written by: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

Reviewed by: Shannon Smith RD, LD, CDCES, Family and Consumer Sciences Program Coordinator, OSU Extension Wood County

Sources:

woodcountyhealth.org

https://www.foodsafety.gov/food-poisoning

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It’s Fair and Festival time! My grandchildren love to go see, touch,Everyone should wash hands after touching or being around animals. Wash hands with running water and soap at least 20 seconds, rinse and dry. and feed the farm animals.  Farm animals are usually a part of the festivities with petting zoos, agricultural fairs, open farms, and shows. This activity can put your children and you at higher risk for a foodborne illness or other diseases from animals.  How do you and your family stay healthy and safe?

  • Wash your hands. It is best to use warm water and soap but if you can’t find water and soap, use some hand wipes.
    • After touching animals.
    • After touching fences, buckets, or farm equipment.
    • After leaving the animal area.
    • After removing clothes and shoes, as these can have bacteria on them.
    • Before you eat or drink beverages after leaving the animal area.
    • After going to the bathroom.
    • Before preparing foods.
  • Do not eat food or drink beverages in animal areas or where animals are.
  • Cover any open wounds or cuts when visiting or working around farm animals.
  • Avoid bites, scratches, and kicks from farm animals.
  • Be sure to supervise children when they are around animals.
  • Prevent hand-to-mouth activities, such as nail biting, finger sucking, and eating dirt.
  • Help children wash hands well with soap after interaction with any farm animal.
  • Do not let children 5 years of age or younger handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or live poultry without supervision.
  • Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items to be in animal areas.

All animals have germs and can make you sick. Don't eat, drink or put things in your mouth when around animals. Wash hands after visiting animals.Are farm animals really dangerous to your health?  For most people they are not a problem.  However, animals carry germs or may have intestinal disease.  The animals seem healthy but can harbor pathogens.  It is difficult to know if a surface, food, or water is contaminated and many pathogens can live for long periods of time.  You don’t need to touch an animal or get manure on your hands to be exposed.  “People who eat or drink in animal areas are almost five times more likely to get ill than people who don’t eat or drink there,” according to Jeff LeJeune, a veterinary researcher with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center  (OARCD) in Wooster.

Children under the age of five, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, and people with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are most at risk.  Common harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Cryptosporodium, and Salmonella are ones that can spread from animals to people.   Thus, washing your hands after being around, touching, or looking at animals is important. Be sure to wash using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly.

Enjoy the festivals and seeing animals!

Author: Pat Brinkman, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

References:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  (2015).  Farm Animals:  Prevention  Available at https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals.html

Espinoza, M. (2005). “Disease-causing Germs at Common at Fairs.”  Ohio State University.   A printed article with quotes from Dr. Jeff LeJeune

Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Division of Health. (2014). Disease Prevention for Fairs and Festivals.  Available at http://www.nasphv.org/Documents/Public_settings_toolkit/DiseasePreventionForFairsToolkit_Kansas.pdf

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