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Yep, You Can Get E. coli 0157:H7 From Getting Too Friendly With Wild Elk

Unless you reside in the Rocky Mountains where wild Elk come every winter looking for food and warmth, you probably do not have to worry about this one.

However, if you or your kids go to someplace like Evergreen High School southwest of Denver, chances are Elk many times have rested on your football field or golf course.

So when, Jefferson County, west of Denver, found it was looking at a cluster of E. coli 0157:H7 cases, Elk and their droppings were suspect. Today’s Rocky Mountain News reports:

"We track every case of E. coli 0157:H7," said Dr. Gayle Miller, senior epidemiologist with Jefferson County Health and Environment. Usually, the outbreaks are so sporadic that no useful links can be made.

This time, though, she found eight cases of the same strain. All eight kids were between 4 and 12 years old – six from Jefferson County and one each from Park and Clear Creek counties.

"We knew we had a cluster," she said.

"Next, she and her staff used a relatively new test, Pulse Field Gel Electrophoresis, and found that not only was the strain the same, but each child’s E. coli had almost identical genetic markers.

She and her staff interviewed the kids to see if they could find a pattern.

"All did say they spent some time in the Evergreen area," Miller said.

They all were close to elk country, either through sports teams or spending time in parks.

This is first time that E coli contamination in humans has been directly linked to deer or elk. The rest of the story is here.

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