Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Fair and food born illnesses.

For a long time I have debated whether or not to write a post like this--
 I know that my views on this topic are colored by the experiences that our family has been through.
Here's a bit of the back story ---

Jerry and I went to the fair, Jessica was about 15months old, I was about 8 months pregnant with Shane-- It was hot out and I remember just wanting to walk and eat an elephant ear. Jessica was a preemie so we were super vigilant about her care when we were out in public. We always brought our own snacks, and wipes...a change of clothes... Jerry and I talked about how to keep Jessica safe while we were at the fair, she had only just begun to walk with skill and so we decided that we would keep her as much as possible in the stroller. We also agreed that~ as much as we like animals that we would avoid the animal barns.
Sadly, we found out that E coli can be transmitted via dust particulate --- apparently Jessica ingested the E coli-- an amount the size of a dime!  E coli has an incubation period (Incubation period: 10 hours - 9 days; usually 3-5 days) and so we didn't know she was sick immediately. 
But once she was sick is was brutal to watch. We managed to get in to see our Dr. and she suggested that we immediately go to the hospital.
Jessica ended up spending about a week here at our local hospital, and then we were shipped to Doernbechers in Portland.  I quit my job and roomed in with Jessica... While we were in PDX, I turned another year older. After several dialysis treatments and a month or so later we were discharged. We came home and were required to keep track of Jessica's blood pressure and food intake, we also had some  yucky medicine that we had to give her. (I accidentally sipped some of it... and it was bad... she had to take it at mealtimes... poor kid-- the Dr.'s wanted her to gain weight but the medication didn't help )
Anyway... It was a long road to recovery and -- honestly she isn't 100%.  She still takes high blood pressure medication, and one of her kidneys is bigger than the other-- The Dr.'s are watchful that when she is a teen -- her kidney's will grow at the same rate as her body.  We have her yearly appointment coming up at the end of the month-- neither Jessica nor I are looking forward to that appointment.

This week is our fair week... and many friends and family are going to the Fair.. -- and although I really enjoy seeing the sights, the sounds and the smells at the fair, I love to see the things that people with skills create, the crafts, food and sewing projects.
 I am not eager to spend money to go to a place -- where my family could get deathly sick.
I know that there is a very small possibility that Jessica could get E coli again-- and honestly that is enough for me  to not take that chance and put her at risk.

We did try and sue, to recover monetary compensation for our medical expenses -- We had a great lawyer, Bill Marler,  but here in Oregon a class action lawsuit requires two things, One, that you prove damages- and Second, that you prove liability. There were about 70 families represented, and although we could defiantly prove damages-- we could not prove to the judge that the Lane County Fair had done ..."anything" to cause our sickness.  It was heartbreaking to receive the news that although the Lane County Fair was the source of our outbreak-- we were unable to collect funds to compensate for our ordeal.

As I sit here typing this I hear on the news about another outbreak of salmonella -- in eggs and milk.

It truely makes me angry and sad-- that we are so technology evolved  and yet... food born illnesses can bring a nation wide recall of such basic items. 


Anonymous said...

I think about this and Jessica every year at fair time as well Stace. Of course not with the same experiences but it has definitely taken the edge off of wanting to go to the fair for me as well. AND I also was thinking of you when I heard about Umpqua and the salmonella. I love you Stace and give the kids a hug from me. Me

Anonymous said...

I think about this case a lot. I have continued to try an educate fairs and petting zoos of the risks. We just updated