Kansas officials are investigating an E. coli outbreak among people who attended an annual festival at Louisburg Cider Mill, with the cause proving elusive after initial tests did not find the pathogen in the production area, finished cider or whole apples. Seven people have been laboratory-confirmed ill with an outbreak strain of E. coli that can be life-threatening.
The symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody and vomiting, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If there is fever, it usually is not very high. Most people get better within a week. Some infections are very mild, but others are severe or even life-threatening.
The cider mill uses a heat pasteurization process for all of its cider products but does not add preservatives. In addition to apples and cider, there were 12 to 15 food vendors with everything from ice cream to barbecue. There were multiple food sources as possible vectors for the E. coli as well as a few goats, pigs and other farm animals that were kept near the corn maze during the festival.
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