July 16, 2018

Petting Zoo is Possible Source of E. coli Outbreak at Rice County Fair

A petting zoo is the possible source of an E.coli outbreak at the Rice County Fair, according to the Fairbault Daily News. Preliminary tests by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) show that the animals from Zerebko Zoo Tran petting zoo were positive for E. coli O157:H7, the same kind of bacteria that sickened at least eight fairgoers, but further testing is needed to determine if the substrain found in the animals is a match to the outbreak strain.

Goats-Petting-Zoo-2Carrie Klumb, an MDH epidemiologist, told the paper that all of the cases share a common exposure: contact with an animal. “Petting zoos are a well-recognized source of E. coli poisoning and have been implicated in several outbreaks in recent years,” said Fred Pritzker, publisher of Food Poisoning Bulletin and food safety attorney who has represented families who children have been sickened and died from E.coli complications after visiting petting zoos

But Wally Zerebko, owner of the petting zoo, told the paper that it’s too early to know what the source of the outbreak is. After the Rice County Fair, before illnesses were reported, Zerebko’s petting zoo appeared at the Olmsted County Fair where the attendance was much larger but there have been no reports of  E. coli poisoning.  Until conclusive tests results can show a link between his animals and the illnesses, Zrebko says the petting zoo will be on hiatus.


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