USDA study shows E. coli O157:H7 common at Fairs in United States

SEATTLE, WA -- In follow up on the filing of a lawsuit involving 29 victims of the 2002 Lane County Fair E. coli outbreak, and in light of the upcoming fair season, the attached abstract of a United States Department of Agriculture study is both timely and relevant. The abstract will be presented at the 2003 VTEC (verocytotoxin producing Escherichia coli infection) Conference being held in Scotland from June 8-11, 2003.

The study consisted of sampling animals at 29 small county fairs in 2 Midwestern States and 3 large State fairs in both Midwestern States and one Southern State. Flies were also tested at 19 county fairs and 2 State fairs. The study found E. coli O157:H7 in 13.8% of beef cattle, 5.9% of dairy cattle, 3.6% of pigs, 5.2% of sheep, 2.8% of goats and 7.1% of flies. E. coli O157:H7 was found at all 32 sampled fairs. According to the abstract, “[t]hese data suggest that STEC O157 are common in ruminants and swine at both large and small agricultural fairs in the United States.”

William Marler, the Seattle attorney representing the 29 victims of the 2002 Lane County Fair, called on Fairs throughout the Country to:

·       Increase Education of Public on Risk of Animal Contact

·       Increase Ventilation of Buildings to Improve Air Flow per Approved Standards

·       Sanitize Walkways and Railings

·       Ban Food from Exhibit Halls and Areas Surrounding Exhibit Halls

·       Increase the Number of Hand Washing Stations and Encourage the Public to Use Them

·       Admit Only Animals that have Passed E. coli O157:H7 Screening

·       Limit Airborne E. coli by

1.     not moving soiled bedding during exhibit hours

2.     keeping stall areas damp with an approved disinfectant

3.     preventing visitors from entering stall areas

·       Increase Signing that Makes Clear the Need to Wash Hands Before Entering and After Leaving Exhibits and to Not Eat in the Exhibits

·       And, Add Warning Signs at Entrances:


Any contact with animals may cause diarrhea,

hemorrhagic colitis, renal failure, and death.

Wash hands before entering and after leaving building.

No food or drink allowed.