2-Year-Old Boy Dies, Three Others Sick From E. Coli At San Diego County Fair
The boy was identified by family members as Jedidiah Cabezuela
A 2-year-old boy died and three other children became ill from E. Coli after visiting the San Diego County Fair, health officials say.
The four cases were confirmed in children ranging from two to 13 years old, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. Fair officials have closed public access to all animal areas, including the petting zoo, at the livestock barn on the eastern side of the Del Mar Fairgrounds as a precautionary measure while the source of the E. Coli is investigated.
In the first case, a 13-year-old girl visited the fair on June 8 and became ill on June 10. The girl is recovering and was not hospitalized.
In the second, an 11-year-old girl visited the fair on June 8 and 12, when she fell ill. The girl is recovering and was not hospitalized.
The third case involved a 9-year-old boy who visited the fair on June 13. He became ill June 16. The boy is recovering and was not hospitalized.
In the fourth case, a 2-year-old boy visited the fair on June 15. He became ill June 19. The boy had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and was hospitalized. He died on June 24.
The toddler was identified by family members as Jedidiah Cabezuela. He died from Shiga-toxin-producing E. Coli. Health officials said Saturday there were no other clusters of Shiga-toxin in the county.
E. Coli can cause HUS, a condition that destroys red blood cells and causes kidney failure, which can lead to death. The illnesses are being investigated by the County Department of Environmental Health and the Health and Human Services Epidemiology Program.
County inspectors said the illnesses had no link to the food facilities the children accessed at the fair. All four children visited the animal areas or had contact with animals at the fair, county health officials said, which led fair officials to close access to animal areas. Fair and health officials have not, however, definitely linked the cause of the E. Coli bacteria to animals at the fair.
The Junior Livestock Auction on Saturday continued as planned, officials said.
Fair officials said Saturday at a news conference that the fair is "safe and secure."
Officials recommend fair attendees to use hand-washing stations around the fairgrounds, especially before eating. People who do not wash their hands after petting an animal or have food or drinks in an area with animals increase their chance of contracting the illness, according to CDC officials.
All animals were scheduled to leave the fair's barn area Sunday night and officials said animal pens are sanitized before and after the fair and cleaned daily. Fair organizers said they expect the animal exhibit to return with more safeguards and policies next season, 10News reported.
The family of Cabezuela gathered Saturday for a fundraiser at Rosie O'Grady's restaurant in Normal Heights. By Monday morning, a GoFundMe account for funeral expenses reached more than $22,000.
Symptoms of E.Coli include severe abdominal cramping, watery or bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms may also occur with or without a fever. County health officials said anyone who experienced the symptoms on or after June 8 should contact their healthcare provider.