June 01, 2001


 CDC links E coli illnesses to farm visits, agency issues new strategies

Posted May 15, 2001

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in late April released the results of a study linking outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Washington and Pennsylvania to contact with farm animals.

Along with the study, the CDC published in the April 20 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report a list of strategies that petting zoos, farms, county fairs, and other sites that allow human contact with farm animals should use to avoid the transmission of disease. The CDC developed these guidelines with help from the USDA and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians.

The six main steps for facility operators are:

  1. Provide information to members of the public who have contact with animals
  2. Design venues to reduce the risk—for example, provide an area where animals are not allowed, construct adequate barriers so that contact occurs only in the designated area, and do not serve food in close proximity to animals
  3. Provide adequate hand-washing facilities in the reach of adults and children
  4. Prohibit hand-to-mouth activities such as smoking, drinking, and using pacifiers in areas with animals
  5. Encourage people at high risk for infections to seriously consider the risks of handling animals
  6. Avoid serving raw milk

The complete report and recommendations for reducing the risk can be accessed at the CDC Web site, www.cdc.gov/mmwr.