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Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Cases in Florida Children Increase

Recombinomics Commentary
March 25, 2005

>>  Several new cases of children with hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, were added to the total early Friday, including a child in Wisconsin who was in Orlando two to three weeks ago. However, the child did not go to a fair while visiting the area………

With the exception of the new case in Wisconsin, doctors believe the hospitalized children all touched animals recently at area fairs, including the Central Florida Fair in Orlando and the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. They might have been exposed to the bacteria through the animals' feces, officials said.

"We do have some information that some outlying ERs have cases of diarrhea in children who had been to petting zoos," Florida Hospital Doctor Mehul Dixit said.

Local 6 News reported that three patients are being watched at an emergency room in Altamonte Springs. <<

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) in the child in Wisconsin is cause for concern.  Initial reports suggested a local event linked to one or two petting zoos.  However, there is some family clustering, and now the case in Wisconsin raising the possibility of human-to-human transmission.  Moreover, the long delay time between exposure and HUS raises the possibility of additional spread to more areas.

The animal search should be broadened.  About a month ago there was an outbreak of avian flu among greyhounds at Daytona Beach kennel club.  There was a similar outbreak about a year ago and H3N8 was isolated.  The virus quickly spread and forced the cancellation of many dog races.

The exposure of the central Florida cluster to bird flu should be investigated, especially since an infectious agent has not been isolated from the majority of the HUS cases.

H3N8 has also been isolated from horses in Florida and Wisconsin.

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