Connecticut health officials expect to see additional victims in an E. coli outbreak linked to a goat farm, even though the operation has been closed to the public since last week. logo-Oak-Leaf-Dairy-Farm As of March 25 the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) had laboratory confirmation of 15 people with the E. coli O157:H7 strain. Fourteen of those cases are linked to Oak Leaf Farm in Lebanon, CT, a goat farm that produces goat cheese and soap. Until recent days, owner Mike Reynolds had allowed the public to tour the farm and pet the goats. He voluntarily closed the farm to the public and public health officials say he is cooperating with investigators. State officials are asking that anyone who has visited the farm recently and developed E. coli infection symptoms to contact the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH). “The number of cases could increase in the near future as DPH is actively identifying individuals who were not initially reported,” according to an update from the department. People who have not become ill but who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March can assist with the outbreak investigation by contacting the state health department, officials said. Anyone who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March is encouraged to contact the Connecticut DPH at 860-509-7994 or at The confirmed patients range in age from 1 to 44 years old, with a median age of 6 years old. Five patients have been hospitalized with three still in the hospital as of Friday afternoon. Two of the hospitalized patients have been diagnosed with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), a rare but serious illness that affects the kidneys and blood clotting system, according to public health officials. Feds join outbreak investigation The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention joined the outbreak investigation late last week. A team from CDC and officials from Connecticut’s health and agriculture departments, along with staff from the Uncas Health District, are conducting onsite inspections at the farm. “We received numerous phone calls and emails over the last several days from people who visited Oak Leaf Farm in March,” DPH Commissioner Raul Pino said in an outbreak update on the department’s website. “Those calls, both from individuals who may have been sickened and from individuals who’ve had no symptoms, are highly valuable to our ongoing investigation. I continue to encourage anyone who visited the farm in March and developed symptoms of this illness to contact their physician. “Additionally, I ask anyone who visited the farm in March to email or call DPH to let us know when you visited and if you or your family members have experienced any symptoms of E. coli.” symptoms can include abdominal cramping, watery and frequently bloody diarrhea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. Symptoms usually resolve over several days, according to the Connecticut DPH. E.coli can easily spread, especially among household members, if proper hand washing is not consistently used. “The best way to prevent the spread of infection is to wash your hands thoroughly after contact with animals and after going to the bathroom and by thoroughly cooking meats and washing fruits and vegetables,” the Connecticut DPH. The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has advised people who purchased goats from Oak Leaf Farm in the past month to contact their livestock veterinarians with questions. The CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture caution that goats infected with E. coli generally do not exhibit any signs or symptoms. The outbreak was first identified March 24 when six of seven people sickened with E.coli O157:H7 were confirmed by DPH to have recently visited Oak Leaf Farm and come into contact with goats on the farm. (To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)