Cowlitz County Health and Human Services identified two additional cases (laboratory confirmation pending) of illness likely caused by E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria to the Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch and petting zoo. The Health Department issued an advisory Friday afternoon after laboratory tests confirmed one of the first two cases to be caused by E. coli 0157:H7; these additional cases bring the total to four children likely infected with E. coli. None of the additional cases have been hospitalized and all of the children are recovering.
When Health Department staff went out to visit the farm this morning, they found that the owners of the farm had voluntarily closed both the pumpkin patch and the petting zoo to the public as of the evening of Monday, October 29, 2012. E. coli 0157:H7 is a bacterial infection that can cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea that may be bloody. Children with that suddenly develop bloody diarrhea should contact a health care provider. Infections can range from mild to very severe. E coli infection can cause kidney damage and is sometimes fatal. Fever is usually very mild or nonexistent.
The Health Department reminds everyone both children and adults, visiting a petting zoo or having contact with farm animals to wash their hands with soap and water immediately after any contact with animals. Supervise and assist young children to ensure they wash their hands thoroughly. Check to see if a hand-washing station with running water is available before visiting the animals. If a hand-washing station is not available, do not have any contact with animals. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is not a substitute for adequate hand-washing in these situations. If you have had contact with animals and discover that hand-washing station is not available, be sure to use plenty of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keep rubbing until the sanitizer has evaporated, then wash your hands at the first opportunity and always wash hands before eating.