ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is investigating cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) involving visitors to Grant's Farm.
According to the DHSS, the five cases were reported in the last month.
STEC is a group of bacteria in the E. coli family that produces the Shiga toxin, which is harmful to humans. Symptoms typically occur 3 to 4 days after exposure.
Infections vary from person to person. Some infections are very mild while others can be severe or even life-threatening. Symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea (often bloody), and vomiting.
Most people will typically recover within 5 to 7 days. However, about 5 to 10 percent of those infected could develop a serious kidney condition called Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, which requires hospitalization and could be fatal.
The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Grant’s Farm are reminding patrons of the importance of handwashing after direct contact with animals, particularly before eating or drinking.
Grant’s Farm issued the following statement Friday afternoon:
“At Grant’s Farm, the safety of our patrons, our employees, and our animal population is our highest priority. We are working closely with the state Dept. of Health and taking all necessary precautions to ensure we provide a safe and enjoyable environment for our visitors.
"We have a team of veterinary experts that work diligently to ensure our animals are healthy. Out of an abundance of caution, we will also be taking further safety measures, including the addition of several more hand-washing/antibacterial stations, and increased signage to remind our visitors of the importance of proper hygiene after coming into contact with the animals.
"We will continue to follow the guidance of the public health experts that are managing this issue, and will defer to the Department of Health on any additional next steps.”
Those who have visited Grant’s Farm since May 2019 and have developed symptoms of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli should visit a medical provider. The investigation is ongoing an is focused on determining the specific risk that may have led to the illnesses.