Two more children – ages 2 and 4 – have probable cases of E.coli related to contact with animals at the 2019 San Diego County Fair, health officials said Friday.
The County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said the two new cases are probable cases of Shiga toxin-producing E.coli, or STEC. One of the children – the 4-year-old – is currently hospitalized.
According to health officials, that child visited the fair and had contact with animals at the fairgrounds on June 21. The child became ill on June 29.
Meanwhile, the 2-year-old visited the San Diego County Fair and had contact with livestock there on June 22. The toddler became ill on June 26, but was not hospitalized, health officials said.
According to the HHSA, this brings the total cases to four confirmed cases of STEC linked to fair animals and three probable cases.
Dean Sidelinger, M.D., MSEd, interim deputy County of San Diego public health officer, said more cases will likely be reported in the weeks to come.
“This isn’t unusual for a public health investigation. We have asked local doctors to be on the lookout for symptoms of STEC,” Sidelinger added in a press release.
The San Diego County Fair wrapped up its 2019 run on July 4.
On June 28, HHSA officials and San Diego County Fair leaders announced four pediatric E.coli cases linked to children having contact with animals at the fair, perhaps at the petting zoo or other animal enclosures, during visits to the fair between June 8 and June 15.
Among those four cases was a 2-year-old boy, Jedidiah Cabezuela, who visited the fair on June 15 became sick on June 19 with confirmed STEC. Jedidiah was hospitalized and developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of E.coli infection that can lead to kidney failure.
The toddler died on June 24.
The other three initial cases announced by the HHSA involved children ages 9 to 13. Health officials told the fair to close all animal exhibits, including the petting zoo, to the public on June 28.
On Tuesday, health officials confirmed another case: a 6-year-old boy who contracted confirmed E.coli after coming into contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair. That boy visited the animals at the fairgrounds on June 22 and started developing symptoms of STEC four days later. The boy was not hospitalized and is recovering, health officials said earlier this week.
According to the HHSA, most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick three to four days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. It can take up to 10 days after being exposed to E. coli for symptoms to show.
Symptoms vary but often include severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. Symptoms may come with or without a fever.
Most people recover within five to seven days and, while some infections are mild, others are severe or life-threatening.
HHSA officials said the best prevention against STEC is practicing good, consistent handwashing hygiene, and to always wash hands thoroughly after any contact with animals or their environments.
The 2019 San Diego County Fair ran for 27 days, from May 31 to the Fourth of July. The fair is the largest annual event in San Diego County, drawing approximately 1.5 million visitors each season.