University of Georgia Cooperative Extension experts say washing hands after petting animals at fairs and festivals is a must. Petting zoos and farms can be a source of E. coli transmission. Reduce your risk of becoming ill by visiting hand-washing stations immediately and thoroughly washing your hands.
Foods and Nutrition professor Judy Harrison explains, "It is the time of year for visiting pumpkin patches, fall festivals and Christmas tree farms. Many of these venues have petting zoos and sell food products – a combination that is a potential health risk if proper hand washing isn’t included."
Two children – a 20-month-old boy and a 17-month-old boy – in Maine were infected with a harmful strain of E. coli after visiting a petting zoo at a county fair in September. The 20-month old died, and the other child is battling for his life after developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication and the most common cause of acute kidney failure in infants and young children.
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