Boy Sickened in 5th Case of E. Coli Linked to Animals at San Diego County Fair

A Ferris wheel appears in an image posted on the San Diego County Fair's Facebook page on June 28, 2019.

A Ferris wheel appears in an image posted on the San Diego County Fair's Facebook page on June 28, 2019.

Just days after announcing the death of a toddler who visited the San Diego County Fair and contracted E. coli, county health officials on Tuesday confirmed another case linked to the annual event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

A 6-year-old boy became the fifth child sickened by Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli after having contact with animals at the fair, according to San Diego County’s Health and Human Services Agency.

He attended animal displays at the fair on June 22 and began showing symptoms on June 26, the agency said. The child was not hospitalized and is currently recovering, authorities said.

The previous cases include a 2-year-old boy who died from kidney complications due to E. coli. County and fair officials said they learned about the cases on June 28, when they decided to shut down the petting zoo and limit the public’s contact with the animals on the grounds until the fair closes on July 4.

Four of the cases, including the latest, have been definitively linked to the animals at the fair, authorities said. Officials are calling the fifth occurrence as a “probable case.”

The other children affected include a 9-year-old boy and an 11- and 13-year-old girl.

“As we continue our investigation, more cases are likely to be reported,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, public health officer for the county. “This is typical of any public health investigation. Since we asked doctors to be on the lookout for STEC, they are more likely to test patients exhibiting symptoms.”

Officials with the Orange County and Los Angeles County fairs, which open on July 12 and Aug. 30, respectively, have assured the public that they are following safety protocols, including having several hand-washing stations for the public.

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