2-year-old dies from E. coli infection traced back to petting zoo goats, health department says
EAGLEVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV/Gray News) – A 2-year-old child died after contracting E. coli that was traced back to a petting zoo, according to a report from the Tennessee Department of Health.
Officials with the TDH said the child’s older brother attended summer camp at Lucky Ladd Farms in June where he picked up E. coli. The bacteria was then transmitted to the 2-year-old, who then developed hemolytic uremic syndrome and died.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hemolytic uremic syndrome causes destruction of red blood cells, which can then cause kidney failure. It occurs as a complication of a diarrheal infection, usually from E. coli. It occurs most commonly in children under 5 years old.
The TDH conducted an outbreak investigation after confirming two cases of STEC, or Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli, related to the summer camp at Lucky Ladd Farms.
Investigation confirmed that, out of 82 attendees to the summer camp, three cases of E. coli were confirmed, two primary and another secondary. The secondary case was the 2-year-old child who died.
The source of the STEC was traced to two baby goats that were in contact with the confirmed cases. Those goats were euthanized, and the barn used to house them was demolished.
STEC is naturally found in the intestinal tracts of healthy animals such as cattle, sheep, deer, elk, and goats. Transmission can normally be avoided by diligent handwashing when dealing with these animals.
The farm voluntarily closed on June 25 while the TDH performed a full evaluation of the facility. The farm reopened on July 21, three weeks after voluntarily closing.
The goat area is no longer a part of their program.
Lucky Ladd Farms released a statement regarding the outbreak on their Facebook account:
“Our family and staff continue to offer our prayers and heartfelt condolences to everyone affected by the very sad outcome that occurred in June. We thank the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) for their very professional and thorough investigation.
We are committed to keeping our guests and staff healthy and safe; but we cannot guarantee against exposure to communicable and zoonotic diseases like COVID-19, E. coli, Salmonella, and Lyme disease to name a few, during a visit with us as there is an inherent risk of exposure at any public facility including schools, parks, grocery stores, restaurants, public restrooms, etc.
We have been advised this risk exists the moment you walk out your door into any public setting with or without animals. We do our best to educate all guests of the potential risks before your visit by sharing information on our website, through online ticketing system, and with signage across the farm.”
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