Dec 28, 2000

Health Commissioner Assures No Repeat of Last Year's E. Coli Outbreak at Fairs

Antonia Novello, the state's health commissioner, attended the Washington County Fair and made statements that the water was good and there was no threat of E. coli contamination--statements he backed up by drinking a glass of water from a booth himself.

Last year a three-year-old girl and elderly man died from E. coli contamination in the fairground well water systems. The worst E. coli outbreak in New York's history left an additional 1,000 people were left ill.

The source of the contamination was not pinpointed but either cow manure or a leaking septic system in a fairground dormitory are suspect.

Since last year's incidents, Novello requires all New York fairgrounds to chlorinate and disinfect their systems prior to any public events.

Fair operators sealed all but one of eight old wells, which will be used for fire emergencies. Two new wells were dug that contain regular clorinators and microfilters, which will be continually tested.

Several lawsuits were filed against fair operators after last year's outbreak, charging operators with negligence.

Since, all fairs with wells are in compiance with a state directive requiring all drinking water to be treated with anti-bacterial agents, or the fairgounds have hooked up to town water supplies.

(Source: The Associated Press)

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