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8 sick with E. coli from Mesa County Fair

At least eight people are sick with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli after spending time at the Mesa County Fair, which ran from July 25-29 in Grand Junction.

Mesa County Public Health officials have been working with representatives from the fair and those who became sick to find the source of the illness.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli is common in cattle, sheep and goats. It can be contracted through direct contact with these animals or contact with things in close proximity to the animals that may have been cross contaminated.

Mesa County Public Health officials have also been in close communication with child-care providers and health-care providers to determine the magnitude of the outbreak and to prevent further spread of the illness.

People can become sick between two and 10 days after being infected with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The fair ended more than 10 days ago. If you or a family member aren't currently ill with stomach cramps, diarrhea or vomiting, it's likely you won't become ill.

In most cases, the illness is mild and lasts one to three days. Symptoms vary for each person but often include very bad stomach cramps, diarrhea and vomiting.

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"Outbreaks are always a possibility at fairs. We worked closely with Mesa County fair officials to put preventive measures in place prior to the start of the event. Otherwise, this could have been much worse," said Executive Director Jeff Kuhr.

The incident follows a food-poisoning case from the Rifle Rodeo in June in which 80 people were sickened.

Public health authorities blamed poorly handled pulled pork for the outbreak of Clostridium perfringens.