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E. coli spike may be linked to farms, corn mazes, & petting zoos

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) A spike in E. coli cases has Utah Department of Health warning people to take precautions ahead of fall festivities. 

While the source of the infections has not been identified, many people who got sick visited corn mazes, farms and petting zoos.

No one has gotten sick at Cross E Ranch in North Salt Lake. Dalon Hinckley works hard to keep it that way. 

“We have lots of signs that say, ‘Wash your hands. Keep them clean’,” Hinkley said. 

With thousands of people enjoying the six-generation farm each weekend, Hinckley set up gallons of hand-sanitizers and washing stations around the petting zoo and food. 

“When you come to a farm people think oh it’s nature and all natural. Yes, it is, but you should still wash your hands,” Hinckley said. 

Across the state, 20 cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli were reported since the first of the month. Six people were hospitalized.

“It’s about a 50 percent increase than what we were expecting,” Utah Department of Health epidemiologist Kenneth Davis said.  

Davis believes the spike may be contributed from people failing to wash their hands after being around farm animals.

“Just being in contact with any sort of manure is a good way to get E. Coli,” Davis said. 

Symptoms usually appear a few days after exposure and include severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhea, and vomiting. But it all can be avoided, with proper hygiene.

Epidemiologists expect the spike to drop during the cold weather when fewer people make a trip to the farm.

Most people get better within a week, but some infections are severe or even life-threatening. 

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