Additional testing of environmental, animal samples finds outbreak strain

State health officials have identified three additional cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness in Minnesotans linked to consumption of raw milk or other dairy products from a dairy farm in Gibbon, Minnesota.

Since May 26, including the new cases, a total of eight E. coli O157:H7 cases in seven different homes have been linked to products from the Hartmann Dairy Farm.

Two of the newly identified cases occurred in school-aged children who consumed milk from the Hartmann Dairy Farm. Both cases had E. coli O157:H7 with the same DNA fingerprint as five earlier cases associated with dairy products from the Hartmann farm. The other newly reported case occurred in an infant living in the same household as one of the earlier five cases. The infant had a confirmed case of E. coli O157:H7, but no stool sample was available for genetic fingerprinting in the MDH lab.

Symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 illness include stomach cramps and diarrhea, which may be bloody. People typically become ill two to five days after eating contaminated food. E. coli O157:H7 disease sometimes leads to a serious complication called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause kidney failure and other severe problems, including death. HUS can occur a week or more after the onset of diarrhea. Those most at risk of developing complications from E. coli include the very young, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems.

Health officials said today that 28 environmental and animal samples obtained by the Minnesota Department of Health from the Hartmann farm have now tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. Twenty-six samples had the same DNA fingerprint as the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7. These additional positive samples include environmental samples from the dairy barn where the cows are milked. The DNA fingerprint is unique among the more than 3,000 isolates of E. coli 0157:H7 tested at the Minnesota Department of Health since 1993. This strain of E. coli O157:H7 has not previously been found in Minnesota.

Consumption of raw milk and other raw dairy products has been associated with outbreaks in Minnesota as well as in other states. Raw milk-related illnesses have been caused by E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella and Listeria.

Anyone who has experienced illness after consuming raw dairy products should consult their health care provider.