Four children have been infected with E. coli—one fatally—after visiting the county fair in San Diego.
The children infected ranged between ages 2 and 13, and their cases have been linked to contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair, the county said in a statement Friday.
Three of the children did not have to go to the hospital, the release said. But the youngest, a 2-year-old boy, died from complications of the disease at a hospital Monday.
All four children visited animal areas or the petting zoo, which have been closed to the public since the reports, the county said.
Symptoms of E. coli can include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. Some infections are mild, but others can be life-threatening.
People of all ages can be infected, but young children and the elderly are more likely to develop severe symptoms.
The city asked that anyone who had symptoms on or after June 8 report it to a health care provider.
The types of E. coli that can cause illness can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with people or animals.
E .coli are bacteria found in foods, intestines, and the environment. Many strains are harmless but others can make humans sick.
People usually get sick from E. coli between two and eight days after swallowing the germ and some people who get sick may develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The infection is usually confirmed by testing a stool sample.
People develop E. coli in different settings, including consumption of contaminated food, consumption of raw milk, consumption of contaminated water, and contact with the feces of infected people.
“Sometimes the contact is pretty obvious (working with cows at a dairy or changing diapers, for example), but sometimes it is not (like eating an undercooked hamburger or a contaminated piece of lettuce),” the CDC said.
“People have gotten infected by swallowing lake water while swimming, touching the environment in petting zoos and other animal exhibits, and by eating food prepared by people who did not wash their hands well after using the toilet. Almost everyone has some risk of infection.”