August 18, 2019

E. coli Outbreak at Olmsted, Polk and Rice County Fairs (And Many More)

An E. coli outbreak at the Rice County Fair has been linked to outbreaks at other county fairs and festivals during July including the Olmsted County Fair, the Polk County Fair and the Nashwauk 4th of July Festival. The source of the illnesses has been identified as the Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo.

“This is another tragic reminder of the risks of petting zoos. Pritzker Olsen has represented countless families afflicted by outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 related to petting zoos across the country,” said Ryan Osterhom, an E.coli lawyer with offices in Minnesota. “We are actively investigating this outbreak to determine if all safety measures were taken by the petting zoo operator to prevent disease transmission.”

State Fair MidwayPetting zoos and animal exhibits at fairs are common source of E.coli outbreaks. In 2012, an E.coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina that sickened 106 people. Sixty-four of them were children, one of whom died. In 2011, an E.coli outbreak at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh sickened 25 people, four of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can cause kidney failure, seizure, stroke and coma. In 2004, a petting zoo at the North Carolina State Fair sickened 187, 15 of whom developed HUS.

Other examples include: the Fond du Lac County Fair, Wisconsin , 2011 where an 18-month old was hospitalized with E. coli poisoning after attending the fair; the Hendricks County Fair in Indiana, 2011, where a five-year-old girl died of an E. coli infection after attending the fair, the Northwestern Michigan Fair, 2010 where three children who attended the fair contracted E. coli poisoning and the Rush County Fair, Indiana, 2010 where a four-year-old girl was hospitalized with HUS after attending the fair.

In this outbreak, lab tests have confirmed that the strain found in fecal samples taken from the petting zoo animals is a genetic match to the outbreak strain of E.coli O157:H7 found in all 13 patients. Two patients developed HUS; one of them remains hospitalized.

 

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