Published Date: 2005-04-04 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Hemolytic uremic syndrome, petting zoo - USA (FL)(07)
Archive Number: 20050404.0964
HEMOLYTIC UREMIC SYNDROME, PETTING ZOO - USA (FLORIDA)(07)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Sun 3 Apr 2005
From: ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: New York Newsday [edited]
Scrutiny for petting zoos
The county fair exhibits offered a real down-on-the-farm experience;
children could milk a cow, bottle-feed a calf, gather eggs or handle a kid
goat. The exhibits were "interactive" and "hands-on." But late last week
[final week March 2005], Florida health officials identified the petting
zoos at 3 local fairs as the most likely source of a vicious strain of the
bacterium _E. coli_ that so far has sickened dozens of people, most of them
children. Animals for all 3 zoos were provided by the same company.
At least 19 children and 3 adults have confirmed cases of the strain, _E.
coli_ 0157:H7, and another 24 children and 9 adults have suspect cases,
health officials said. The organism causes bloody diarrhea and abdominal
cramps, but the biggest concern is that, in some patients, it has triggered
hemolytic uremic syndrome, an illness that shuts down the kidneys and
leaves victims paralyzed or blind.
Many diseases can spread from animals to humans, and in recent years,
petting zoos have been a source of outbreaks. In 2004, more than 100 people
were infected with _E. coli_ at a state fair petting zoo in Raleigh, N.C.,
and 2 Canadian petting zoos were linked to another outbreak. Within the
past 5 years, visitors have been infected at a dairy farm in Pennsylvania,
a county fair in Medina County, Ohio, and a petting zoo in Snohomish
The problem is that even healthy, well-kept animals can harbor intestinal
diseases and parasites harmful to humans, including not only _E. coli_
0157:H7, but others including salmonella, cryptosporidium and ringworm.
Transmission can occur when animals step or sit in their own feces and then
are petted or fed by children, who then put their hands in their mouths or
suck their thumbs or a pacifier.
Simple hand-washing is key to preventing transmission of these bacteria and
parasites, health officials say. "The very sensible practice of strict
hand-washing whenever you come in contact with animals -- not just at a
petting zoo -- must be emphasized, especially if you are a child, an
elderly person or someone who is susceptible," said Dr. John O. Agwunobi,
secretary of health for the state of Florida. "Parents should go prepared
... and assure that their children aren't touching farm animal waste or
contaminated equipment. ... At this point, this is what science advises
people to do." A well-designed petting zoo will station an area equipped
with hand-washing facilities between the animal areas and the non-animal
areas, clearly marked with signs that direct visitors to wash hands upon exit.
By 1 Apr 2005, health officials said DNA analysis of _E. coli_ samples
found that in at least 5 patients the bacteria were genetically identical,
a sign they came from the same source, Agwunobi said. "They got it from the
same place is the bottom line," he said. "What's interesting is ... they
got it from the same place, but they didn't all attend the same fair. "The
only bridging event at each of these 3 fairs appears to be a very specific
petting zoo," with animals from Ag-Venture Farm Shows of Plant City,
Florida, Agwunobi said.
[Byline: Roni Rabin]
Date: 1 Apr 2005
From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
Source: CNN [edited]
Tampa fair linked to _E. coli_ outbreak
Health officials have linked a potentially deadly _E. coli_ outbreak to a
3rd Florida fair, saying on Thu 31 Mar 2005 that DNA tests showed the
organism may have infected people who attended the Florida State Fair in Tampa.
Officials say 22 people, mostly children, in central Florida are confirmed
to have been infected by a particular strain of the _E. coli_ bacteria, and
some of them have developed a potentially fatal follow-up disease affecting
Most attended the Central Florida Fair in Orlando or the Strawberry
Festival in Plant City in March 2005, but Health Secretary John Agwunobi
said at least one person is believed to have contracted the infection at
the fair in Tampa in mid-February 2005.
Agwunobi also said officials are becoming convinced that the outbreak
probably resulted from contact with farm or other types of animals at
petting zoos, because it's the only common element between all 3 fairs.
While other causes haven't been ruled out, one company, Ag-Venture Farm
Shows of Plant City, provided the animals for the petting zoos at all 3,
Agwunobi said. The company has not returned calls from The Associated
Press. Health officials say the company is cooperating with the Department
of Agriculture in the investigation, and the animals who were at the 3
fairs have been voluntarily quarantined.
In addition to the 22 confirmed cases, officials are monitoring 33
suspected cases in Florida, 24 of them involving children.
[Now a 3rd petting zoo is implicated, and all 3 had animals supplied by the
same organization. Furthermore, the strains tested so far have been
genetically linked despite coming from different petting zoos. - Mod.LL]