The vast majority of our E. coli O157:H7 cases are foodborne. Our clients have been sickened by, among other things, ground beef, tri-tip, spinach, lettuce, and apple juice.
Another vector for the transmission for E. coli O157:H7 is human/animal contact at petting zoos and other animal exhibits. A survey of the literature, including CDC’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reveals at least 23 outbreaks of zoonotic disease, including illnesses from E. coli 015:H7, associated with animal exhibitions in the United Kingdom and the United States before the dual outbreaks in 2004 in North Carolina and Florida. These prior outbreaks included an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak associated with a county fair in Medina, Ohio, in August, 2000; two E. coli 0157:H7 outbreaks in Pennsylvania in 2000 and 2001 associated with farm animals; 92 E. coli 0157:H7 cases associated with the Wyandot County Fair in Ohio in September 2001; and the largest E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak in Oregon history at the Lane County Fair in September 2002.
Fortunately, the CDC and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians have developed recommendations aimed at reducting the risk of E. coli O157:H7 transmission in these settings.