Port Washington, Wis. — State health officials have determined that 13 people who contracted E. coli bacteria at a county fair early this month visited animal barns or a petting zoo, then ate without washing their hands.
Those who became sick touched manure or touched an item that came into contact with manure, Herb Bostrom, director of the state Bureau of Communicable Diseases, said Wednesday. The bacteria live in the intestines of animals and humans.
"It's not bad luck. It's bad hygiene," Bostrom said. "If you go into an animal barn and don't wash your hands, you're going to get sick."
More than 220 people filled out a questionnaire about their experiences at the fair, held Aug. 1-5. Their answers pointed officials to the barns and zoo.
Fair officials placed more than 25 signs in barns and zoos encouraging everyone to wash their hands before eating, said Ken Riemer, Ozaukee County Agricultural Society president.
"It's very frustrating," he said. "We tried. We feel very sorry for those who did get sick."