Lane County Fair E. coli Outbreak LitigationIn late August of 2002, Lane County Public Health (LCPH) reported an E. coli outbreak among attendees of that year’s Lane County Fair. As the outbreak investigation progressed, LCPH and the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) announced that 82 cases of E. coli had been associated with attendance at the fair.
Public health investigators established a genetic link between the E. coli O157:H7 isolated from fairgoers and from barnyard animals present at the fair, and discovered E. coli bacteria on pipes 15 feet above goat pens after the fair was over. Seventy-five people, including 12 children, were believed to be infected with E. coli after visiting the sheep and goat exhibition hall at the fair, and although it was not confirmed investigators postulated whether the bacteria had been spread through the air.
The Marler Clark law firm represented many of the victims of the outbreak, which is believed to be the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Oregon history, in claims against the Lane County Fair. Since the outbreak, Lane County and many other fairs have installed hand-washing stations and signs warning fairgoers to wash their hands thoroughly after touching animals.