St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - An outbreak of E. coli illness has been linked to the Minnesota State Fair.

The Minnesota Department of Health says investigators recently identified 11 cases among state residents who became ill after attending the State Fair between August 25th and September 2nd. Six of the people, who range in age from 2 to 43-years-old, required hospitalization and one developed a potentially fatal kidney-related complication.

The Department of Health is working with fair officials to identify the source of the E. coli bacteria and note most of the people stricken by the infection reported visiting the Miracle of Birth exhibit. Minnesota Department of Health Veterinarian Joni Scheftel says there is little risk of ongoing exposure to the bacteria since the fair has ended, but it is still important to spread the news so healthcare providers are aware and anyone with symptoms of the infection receives proper treatment.

“These infections can have serious health impacts and there is always a chance that an ill person can pass along the infection to others through close contact,” Scheftel said. “Anyone who believes they may have developed an E. coli O157 infection should contact their health care provider. E. coli O157 infections should not be treated with antibiotics, as this might lead to serious complications.”

The symptoms include stomach cramps, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal distress. People typically become ill 2 to 5 days after being exposed but that period can be as long as 8 days. The individuals facing the highest risk of developing serious complications are children under 10 years of age, elderly people, and anyone with a weakened immune system.

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