The new Eurosurveillance website is almost here.

Eurosurveillance is on the updated list of the Directory of Open Access Journals and in the SHERPA/RoMEO database. Read more here.

On 6 June 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) published updates to its ‘Essential Medicines List’ (EML). Read more here.

Follow Eurosurveillance on Twitter: @Eurosurveillanc

In this issue

Home Eurosurveillance Weekly Release  2001: Volume 5/ Issue 17 Article 2
Back to Table of Contents

Eurosurveillance, Volume 5, Issue 17, 26 April 2001

Citation style for this article: Handysides S. Escherichia coli O157 infection and farm visits. Euro Surveill. 2001;5(17):pii=1763. Available online:

Escherichia coli O157 infection and farm visits

An article in last week’s MMWR (5) provides instances of the risk of zoonotic infection among people (particularly children) who visit farms for education and recreation (1).

The MMWR article describes two outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157 infection – in different states – in the spring and autumn of 2000, both associated with farm visits (1). In Washington State in May and June 2000 three out of five children aged 2 to 14 years who developed abdominal cramps and diarrhoea required admission to hospital and one developed haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS) (5). Four of them had visited a dairy farm where they handled young poultry, rabbits, goats, and a calf, and the fifth was a sibling of a child who had visited the farm and become ill afterwards. Isolates from the children were indistinguishable by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), but animal stool specimens yielded no E. coli O157.

The other outbreak, in Pennsylvania, was larger and occurred in the autumn (5). Fifty-one people (age range 1 to 52 years; median 4 years) who had visited a dairy farm developed diarrhoea in the next 10 days: 16 of them were admitted to hospital and eight developed HUS. A case control study (the 51 cases and 92 age-matched controls) showed that illness was associated with contact with cattle, nailbiting, and buying food from outdoor concessions, but that handwashing before eating had a protective effect (5). Isolates of E. coli O157 from patients and 28 cattle were indistinguishable by PFGE.

The MMWR article includes recommendations for action to reduce the risk of transmission of enteric pathogens at petting zoos, open farms, and other places where the public may come in contact with farm animals (5). They focus on the provision of information about the risk, minimisation of risk through design of such facilities, the provision and use of handwashing facilities, avoidance of hand-mouth activities, additional precautions to be taken by those at increased risk of serious infection, and the avoidance of raw milk.

In recent years at around this time of year Eurosurveillance Weekly and other bulletins have reported on the risks of infection associated with recreational and educational visits to farms and of other exposures to livestock (2-4). Escherichia coli O157 infection (2), salmonellosis (3), and cryptosporidiosis (4) have all been described in this context.

References :
  1. CDC. Outbreaks of Escherichia coli O157:H7 infections among children associated with farm visits -- Pennsylvania and Washington, 2000. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2001; 50: 293-7. (
  2. White C. Infection risks from contact with farm animals and poultry. Eurosurveillance Weekly 2000; 4: 000420.
  3. CDSC. Outbreak of salmonellosis associated with chicks and ducklings at a children’s nursery. Commun Dis Rep CDR Wkly 2000; 10: 149,52. (
  4. Handysides S. The emergence of cryptosporidiosis. Eurosurveillance Weekly 1998; 2: 980507

Reported by Stuart Handysides (, Eurosurveillance editorial office.

back to top

Back to Table of Contents

The publisher’s policy on data collection and use of cookies.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by authors contributing to Eurosurveillance do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) or the editorial team or the institutions with which the authors are affiliated. Neither ECDC nor any person acting on behalf of ECDC is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in this journal. The information provided on the Eurosurveillance site is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Our website does not host any form of commercial advertisement. Except where otherwise stated, all manuscripts published after 1 January 2016 will be published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence. You are free to share and adapt the material, but you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the licence, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.

Eurosurveillance [ISSN] - ©2007-2016. All rights reserved

This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify. This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information:
verify here.