April 19, 2018

After E.coli Outbreak, Pumpkin Patch Closes Petting Zoo

A Washington petting zoo where four children contracted E.coli infections has been closed.  The owners of the Willow Grove Gardens Pumpkin Patch voluntarily closed the petting zoo Monday evening after four children, all under the age of ten, got E.coli poisoning after visiting the farm. At least one of them was so ill that hospitalization was required, according to local health authorities.

Petting zoos are frequent sources of E.coli outbreaks. Earlier this month, an E.coli outbreak associated with a petting zoo at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina killed one child and sickened more than 100 others.

Petting animals can transfer dangerous bacteria to hands which can cause infection if the face, eyes, nose or mouth  are touched without first washing hands. It can also be transferred by touching  or picking produce from muddy farm fields that containing manure. Eating, drinking, or using a pacifier in areas where animals are housed can also be risks.

Symptoms of an E.coli infection include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which can sometimes by bloody which set in three to four days after exposure and can last up to a week. Health officials in Cowlitz County Washington, reminds everyone that alcohol- based hand sanitizer is not an adequate substitute for washing hands with running water.  Petting zoos or animal exhibits should have hand-washing stations with running water, if they don’t do not have contact with the animals, they advise.

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