County News Service
Photo: Jeddediah King Cabezuela, 2, from a GoFundMe site set up to help his famliy.
June 28, 2019 (San Diego) – The San Diego County Fair has shut down public access to all animal exhibits and the petting zoo after four children were sickened with E.Coli and 2-year-old Jeddediah King Cabezuela died.
The County’s Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) confirms four pediatric cases of Shiga-toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) linked to contact with animals at the Fair. HHSA Epidemiology Program and the County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) are investigating the cluster of four infections.
The ages of the four children range from 2 to 13 years of age. They visited the fair from June 8 to June 15 and had symptoms from June 10 to June 16. Three of the four cases were not hospitalized. Cabezuela was hospitalized and unfortunately died on June 24 from a complication of this disease after his kidneys shut down.
The source of the E.Coli bacteria is under investigation, but all children had a report of visiting the animal areas or the petting zoo, or had other animal contact at the San Diego Fair.
“Our sympathies go out to the family of the child that died from this illness,” states Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “While most people recover from this illness without complications, 5 to 10 percent of people diagnosed with STEC develop the life-threatening kidney infection.”
County DEH also re-inspected food facilities that were visited by the children and found no link to the cases.
Most people with a STEC infection start feeling sick 3 to 4 days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria. However, illnesses can start anywhere from 1 to 10 days after exposure. Symptoms vary from person-to-person and often include severe abdominal cramps, watery or bloody diarrhea (3 or more loose stools in a 24 hour period) and vomiting.
Symptoms may occur with or without a fever; fevers are usually mild. When present, the fever usually is not very high (less than 101˚F/38.5˚C). Most people get better within 5 to 7 days. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
The public is asked to contact your healthcare provider if you have experienced these symptoms on or after June 8, and especially if you have diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days or diarrhea accompanied by fever higher than 102˚F, or blood in the stool, or so much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down and you pass very little urine.
The most important step people should take to help prevent an STEC infection is to practice good handwashing hygiene. Always wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals or their environments (at farms, petting zoos, fairs, even your own backyard). Everyone, especially young children, older individuals, and people with weakened immune systems, should wash their hands before eating or drinking.