E. coli cases linked to petting goats at Loudoun Co. farm

The Loudoun County Health Department said it is investigating a handful of cases of E. coli in people who reported petting goats at Georges Mill Farm in Lovettsville, Virginia.

The Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services isolated and identified the bacterium Shiga Toxin that produced E. coli illness after several people reported they experienced symptoms following encounters with the goats between March 6 and April 20.

The staff at Georges Mill Farm have helped the health department identify anyone who might have been at risk for illness.

Anyone who was around the goats and hasn’t been in contact with the health department should get medical attention if they become ill, let their health care provider know of possible exposure and report their exposure to the Loudoun County Health Department through an online survey.

The health department said there is no evidence that there is an “ongoing” risk to the farm’s visitors.

Following the outbreak, Georges Mill Farm said on its website that the baby goat visiting and bottle feeding will be closed for the remainder of the year.

“We feel horrible that several of our baby goat visitors got sick after their visit and that the Loudoun County Health Department considers contact with the baby goats as the source of the illness,” the farm said in a statement. “We wish those sickened a speedy recovery and we have and will continue to make every effort to minimize the inherent risks of baby goat visiting.”

Those who may have been infected by the bacteria could experience symptoms of diarrhea with stomach cramps, vomiting, fever, chills or blood in their stool. Symptoms of E. coli illness normally manifest two to four days after exposure but can manifest between one to 10 days.

The health department said people should wash their hands after being in contact with animals, particularly livestock.

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