Officials with Grand Traverse County Health Department have reported three probable cases of Shigatoxin-producing E.coli in the past week. Information was not provided on the specific strain, but the most common pathogenic strain of the bacteria is E. coli O157:H7. According to this report, "All cases were in children and all three attended the Northwestern Michigan Fair in Grand Traverse County between August 9 and August 13. The onset of symptoms, including bloody diarrhea, were between August 15 and August 17.
It appears that the illnesses are linked to exposure to animals at the fair:
"Considering the number of animals in close proximity to people at that venue, it seems likely that their infections were contracted there", stated Dr. Michael Collins, Medical Director for the Grand Traverse County Health Department. "Though we will probably never know exactly which animal or animals were involved as sources".
E. coli O157:H7 is most often harbored by ruminants, including cattle, sheep, and goats. Outbreaks of illness, and E. coli O157:H7, have been repeatedly linked to animal/child interaction at petting zoos and fairs. For many years, the CDC and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) has provided a list of guidelines and recommendations aimed at reducing or eliminating the risk of such transmission.