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E. coli outbreak from Lebanon dairy farm expands to 41 cases

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LEBANON–More cases of E. coli have now been confirmed in connection to a dairy farm in Lebanon.

The Department of Public Health now says that 41 people have been diagnosed with E. coli after visiting the Oak Leaf Dairy Farm in March. The patients range in age from 9 months to 45 years old, with a median age of five. Of the 41 patients, seven are adults and the other 34 are under the age of 18. Of those under 18, 22 are under the age of five.

Of those who were diagnosed with E. coli, 10 were hospitalized, and one remains in the hospital. Also, three of the hospitalized patients were also determined to have hemolytic uremic syndrome, a rare but serious illness that affects the kidneys and blood clotting. The one child still hospitalized is one of the three who had HUS.

Besides the Department of Public Health, the Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are also investigating the outbreak. The farm is closed as it cooperates with the investigation.

So far, evidence from the investigation, which will last several more weeks, indicates that the illnesses were not related to food or other items sold at the farm, such as milk or cheese–which are both pasteurized before being sold–caramels, lip balms, soaps or salves.

Those who visited the farm between March 6 and March 20 were at risk, and symptoms were first felt as early as March 7.

Here are tips to avoid getting infected or catching an infection from sick family members:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after using the restroom or changing a child’s diaper.
  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food for yourself and others.
  • Stay home from school or work while diarrhea persists; most people can return to work or school when they no longer have diarrhea. Special precautions are needed for food handlers, health care workers, and child care providers and attendees. Check with your employer before returning to work, and check with your child’s child care center before resuming child care.
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