May 24, 2024

Minnesota State Fair Lawsuit Filed For a Child Sickened with E. coli O157:H7

The lawyers at Pritzker Hageman have filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 4-year-old boy who was sickened with an E. coli O157:H7 infection he contracted at the Minnesota State Fair last summer. The boy suffered permanent kidney damage as a complication of this infection.

Minnesota State Fair Lawsuit Filed For a Child Sickened with E. coli O157:H7

The outbreak at the fair sickened 11 people; it was announced in mid-September 2019. Contact with livestock was a key factor in this outbreak according to public health officials, and in fact many patients said they visited the Miracle of Birth exhibit and had direct contact with goats, sheep, piglets, and calves. Ruminant animals such as goats, sheep, and cows can carry E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in their intestines. The pathogen is shed in their feces, and can contaminate bedding, floors, fences, and gates in the environment around the animals, and in fact, can aerosolize and spread beyond the immediate environment.

The patient age range is from 2 years old to 43 years old. Those sickened attended the fair between August 25, 2019 and September 2, 2019.

Attorney Fred Pritzker

Food safety attorney Fred Pritzker has been warning about these outbreaks for years, stating that “Despite the frequency and severity of these outbreaks, not enough is being done to prevent these severe injuries to children, who are particularly vulnerable to E. coli O157:H7. You can contact Fred for help by calling 1-888-377-8900 or 612-338-0202.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published recommendations for fair organizers on how to prevent these outbreaks. In the Minnesota publication, petting zoo and fair organizers are asked not to allow calves in petting zoos as it is “extremely difficult to prevent infections in children who have close, prolonged contact with young calves.”

This is not the first time children have been sickened after visiting animals exhibited in state fairs and petting zoos:

  • In 2012, one of the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks occurred at the Cleveland County Fair, with more than 100 people sickened. Twelve children were hospitalized and one died.
  • In 2013, a child was sickened with an E. coli O157:H7 infection after visiting a petting zoo at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Minnesota. Pritzker Hageman won millions for that child in a lawsuit filed in 2016.
  • Another E. coli O157:H7 outbreak at the Minnesota State Fair occurred in 2014, sickening 13 people. Zerebko Zoo Tran, a traveling petting zoo, is the suspect in that outbreak.
  • A deadly E. coli O157:H7 outbreak also occurred in 2019 at the San Diego at the San Diego County Fair. At least 11 people were sickened, three were hospitalized, and one child sadly died.

The lawyers at Pritzker Hageman have lobbied for laws that mandate safety practices at these types of animal exhibits because of these outbreaks and the suffering they cause.

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