2001 Lorain County, Ohio, Fair E. coli Outbreak
The Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Services (CDC memorandum, February, 2002) reported that 23 cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection were associated with the attendance at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in September, 2001. Additional cases were identified as likely due to secondary transmission from attendees at the fairgrounds. An investigation associated illness with environmental contamination at the Cow Palace. This included attending a dance in the building, handling sawdust from the floor or eating and/or drinking in the building. Twenty-four of 54 specimens collected from the implicated building grew Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157. Bacterial isolates from sawdust, the rafters, and other surfaces were identical by molecular fingerprinting to patient isolates. Sawdust specimens collected 42 weeks after the fair also grew the same E. coli O157 strain. This was an outbreak were prolonged environmental contamination was found and human exposure was attributed to a contaminated environment versus direct contact with the animals. The outbreak was reported in the November 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.