140 in Illinois Stricken by E. Coli

PETERSBURG, Ill.--More than 140 people were sickened with a potentially deadly strain of E. coli after partying in a cow pasture last weekend, and state health officials were scrambling to reach more than 1,800 others who were there.

It is the second major E. coli outbreak in two weeks.

In New York state, two people have died and more than 600 others who attended a county fair have E. coli symptoms. New York health officials estimate as many as 1,000 people may have been infected, which would make it the worst E. coli outbreak in U.S. history.

The worst outbreak was in 1993 when 700 patrons of Jack in the Box restaurants in Washington state were sickened by bacteria linked to undercooked hamburger and four died.

No deaths have been linked to the central Illinois outbreak, but Health Department spokesman Tom Schafer said yesterday that 18 people had been hospitalized, 127 had reported E. coli symptoms and those numbers were expected to rise.

The Sept. 4 party was a free gathering for family and friends of members of eight bands who rarely get to hear them play, said Tom Baird, who has held "Cornstock" in his pasture for the past four years. Baird said he donated a steer for the party, but it was prepared off-site, and he said he cleaned the pasture of manure before the party.

The E. coli strain, found in the feces and intestines of cattle, is the same strain blamed for the outbreak at the Washington County fairgrounds in Greenwich, N.Y., Illinois health officials said.

Late last week, New York health officials said tests had confirmed the presence of E. coli in an unchlorinated well not far from cow barns on the fairgrounds. But the water was tested several days after the fair ended, and while it is from the same well, it is not the same water people drank at the fair.

Complicating matters, health officials said they confirmed more than two dozen cases of campylobaceteriosis among the fairgoers. Its symptoms and means of transmission mirror those of E. coli.

The first E. coli victim, 3-year-old Rachel Aldrich of Malta, N.Y., was buried Friday. The second, 79-year-old Ernest L. Wester of Gansevoort, N.Y., died the same day. Wester's granddaughter, Brandy Wester, said he initially thought he had the flu.

The typical incubation period for the illness is three to eight days but can be longer. Symptoms include bloody diarrhea and severe abdominal cramps.

New York Sprays For Mosquitoes

NEW YORK--Workers on foot began spraying pesticide yesterday in Manhattan in the city's war on mosquito-borne encephalitis that has killed three people.

Six other cases of the potentially deadly virus since Sept. 2 have been confirmed, and 89 cases are suspected. Eight of the confirmed infections were in Queens and one in Brooklyn.

All three people who died were at least 58 years old.

Symptoms of St. Louis encephalitis range from a low fever and headaches to a high fever, stiff neck, disorientation and tremors. Because it is a virus, there is no vaccine available to prevent it, but the symptoms can be treated.

City Health Commissioner Neal Cohen said residents should stay indoors for two or three hours after their neighborhoods are sprayed.

The pesticide used, malathion, is one of the least toxic pesticides that effectively kills adult mosquitoes, but it can cause eye irritation, rashes and respiratory problems.

Six People Saved From Alaskan Glacier

JUNEAU, Alaska--A hovering Coast Guard helicopter hoisted five tourists and their pilot safely off a glacier after they spent part of a blustery night huddled in a makeshift igloo after their sightseeing helicopter crashed.

Two other Temsco helicopters sent to find them also crashed in the flat lighting conditions that can make distinguishing the glacier from the sky almost impossible.

"Up there, it's just so white and so flat, you can't tell where the ground is," said Steve Lewis, the head of a search team trudged for three hours to find the wreckage and then huddled in tents with the crash victims until daylight and rescue by the Coast Guard. He said none of the six people suffered major injuries.


* LOS ANGELES--An armored car guard proclaimed a hero after he helped drag wounded police officers to safety during a 1997 shootout was behind bars for allegedly helping rob his own truck of $500,000. David Campbell, 36, was driving an armored transport truck hijacked by two gunmen Sept. 3 in suburban Van Nuys, but police said he was in on the plan. He was among six people arrested in the recent holdup.

* SOUTHFIELD, Mich.--Michael Shoels, whose son was the only black victim of the massacre at Columbine High School in which 15 people died, said the Littleton, Colo., school was still "saturated" by hateful students. In Michigan to attend an anti-hate rally with student Mark Taylor, who survived nine gunshot wounds in the attack, Shoels cited three swastikas that Columbine officials removed at the start of school last month and said Littleton and Colorado are in denial over the continued hatred at Columbine.

CAPTION: A New York City Health Department truck sprays malathion to kill mosquitoes carrying St. Louis encephalitis, which has killed three, in Brooklyn.