HDCN Article Review/Hyperlink

Holland JJ

AP Newswire on Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Outbreak: E. coli found at another fair

Assoc Press Wire (Sep) 9:10 1999

The link to this press release (reproduced below) is available from YAHOO: click here

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The deadly bacteria E. coli that killed a 3-year- old girl and sickened nearly 500 others may have found its way into the water at a second county fair, health officials warned.

A fair worker at F & W Concessions, which sold food at the Washington County Fair, might have taken three gallons of tainted water with her to use for coffee, lemonade and frozen treats at the Rensselaer County Fair on Sept. 1-6.

One of the wells at the Washington County Fair was infected with E. coli bacteria, state Health Commissioner Antonia Novello said.

Health officials also think that a deadly strain of E. coli, O157:H7, also came from that well although they have yet to find any traces of that E. coli bacteria.

Three-year-old Rachel Aldrich, who died Sept. 4 and was to be buried today, was the only reported fatality. While 497 people had been treated at hospitals for E. coli symptoms, 85 cases, including that of Rachel and her 2-year-old sister, Kaylea, are confirmed to be E. coli poisoning, Novello said. Kaylea was in serious condition.

All of those sickened visited the Washington County Fair, which was about 35 miles north of Albany, on Aug. 28-29.

The suspected well was not even supposed to be used for the fair, but the state's recent drought forced the auxiliary well into use, Novello said.

The fair worker who transported the water, whom state officials refused to identify, has reported the symptoms of E. coli infection although it has yet to be confirmed that she was infected, Novello said.

The water that was used by the worker may have been drawn from a well not suspected to carry the infection, Novello said.

Health officials said Thursday that they are concentrating their search for the deadly E. coli bacteria on a 3-year-old well at the Washington County Fair.

The 20-foot well was only 83 feet from a cattle barn and the ground around it had been dug up for the installation of two new wells, Novello said. A strong rainstorm Aug. 26 might have driven some E. coli-laced cattle manure straight into the well, she said.

Many of the nation's worst E. coli outbreak come from undercooked meat. In 1993, four children died and more that 700 others became ill from eating undercooked hamburgers at a fast-food restaurant in the Pacific Northwest.