Livestock experts are urging county and state fair participants to use good food safety and sanitation practices after a Washington County teen fell ill from a kidney disease that can be caused by some E. coli bacteria.

The teen was showing lambs at the Washington County Fair and fell ill days later. Her parents said they thought she may have contracted it from cattle at the fair.

“Disease causing bacteria can occur anywhere in the environment, including the potential to be present at the fair,” said Fred Pohlman, professor-Animal Science for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

Infections from E. coli, the bacterial that lives in intestines, can occur through direct contact, but not through the air.

“Hand-washing before handling food, not handling food directly after handling livestock, and not touching eyes, nose, mouth, or any mucus membranes after handling livestock can all go a long to preventing any number of infections,” Pohlman said.

For more about safe food handling, see “Foodborne Illness: Debunking the Myths”

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without discrimination.