County: No reported illness at the Fair

Photo contributed by California Mid-State Fair

Reminds all to protect your health, keep washing your hands

COUNTY — There have been concerns about illnesses at the California Mid-State Fair this past week. Perhaps stemming from the death of a 2-year-old boy, that contracted Escherichia Coli also known as E.Coli from a San Diego fair this July.

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department was not aware of illness such as E. Coli or foodborne illness linked with the fair.

"We haven't had any reported cases of foodborne illness related to the fair," said Tara Kennon, spokesperson for the Public Health Department.

"We've had a few reported cases of E. Coli over the past month, but none of those cases has been confirmed as linked to the fair," said  Kennon.

She stated that they do get a few cases annually, which is not unusual since E. Coli can come from a variety of sources including kiddie swimming pools and from the soil in your own backyard.

In 2018 there were 13 reported cases in SLO County and in 2017 there were 16 cases. Kennon shared some tips on how to prevent E.Coli and other illnesses when visiting the fair or when animals are present:

  •     Wash your hands with soap and running water after touching animals or being in areas where animals are housed or exhibited, even if you did not touch the animal.
  •     Do not eat, drink, or put anything in your mouth while in an area where animals are housed or exhibited.
  •     Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth until you have exited the animal area and washed your hands with soap and running water.
  •     Do not take toys, pacifiers, cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items into animal areas.
  •     Always supervise children around animals and supervise handwashing for young children.
  •     Don’t let children sit or play on the ground in animal areas.

People in high-risk groups such as seniors, children under the age of 5, pregnant women and people with other health concerns should take extra care.

The California Mid-State Fair has taken extra precautions this year and has greatly increased the number of handwashing stations throughout the fairgrounds. Even new permanent handwashing stations, that are not only aesthetically appealing — but the perfect height for toddlers — were found in all of the animal areas.

“We commend the California Mid-State Fair for taking these important steps to protect our community’s health,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, Health Officer of the County of San Luis Obispo. “I ask everyone who visits the animal exhibits to keep health top of mind and take steps — like washing your hands when you leave the exhibit — to protect yourself, your family and our community.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), E. coli are bacteria found in the environment, foods, and intestines of people and animals. Most E. coli are harmless and are an important part of a healthy human intestinal tract.

However, some E. coli can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, respiratory illness, bloodstream infections, and other illnesses. The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or people.

The California Public Health Department urges the public that if you develop any illness after visiting animal exhibits, including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, or flu-like symptoms, see your health care provider and let them know of your contact with animals.

For more information on staying healthy around animal exhibits, and to learn about the new measures in place to help protect health at the California Mid-State Fair, visit www.midstatefair.com/fair/livestock-info.php.

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