The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that at least three children have been infected with E. coli O157:H7 after coming into contact with cattle and g0ats at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN. The children are aged 15 months to 7 years, and one child has been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe kidney disease associated with E. coli infection. All three visited the pumpkin patch petting zoo on Oct. 12 or 13 and became ill on Oct. 16 or 18. Health officials are following up with other visitors to determine if more are ill. Two additional people who visited the farm on Oct. 18 have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infection and are currently being tested. The farm owners have been cooperating fully with the investigation, and public access to the cattle and goat areas is being prohibited. The rest of the farm, including the pumpkin patch, remains open for business. The best way to prevent infections from contact with animals is to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately afterwards. Hand sanitizers might afford some protection until hands can be washed with soap and water but do not work well against some germs or when hands are visibly soiled. Food, drinks, and items that promote hand-to-mouth contact (for example, pacifiers) should never be brought into animal areas. E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children younger than 5 years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.