The Daytona Beach News-Journal did a story today on fairs, petting zoos, and caution in the wake of the E. coli outbreak in North Carolina. Health officials in North Carolina have confirmed 31 cases and are investigating 103 more, with some of the cases linked to a state fair petting zoo.
From the Daytona Beach News-Journal:
There have been no E. coli cases reported in connection with the Volusia County Fair, but Chris Campbell said he wasn’t taking any chances. Campbell gave his children, ages 7 and 3, very specific instructions when he lets them loose at the Phillips Petting Zoo.
Jim Phillips, who owns the Missouri-based petting zoo, said a few people have asked him about E. coli since the North Carolina cases were reported, but it hasn’t hurt his business in Volusia County. People are still coming in to feed several varieties of fuzzy goats, cattle, llamas and horses.
He sells wet-wipes for 25 cents so people can clean their hands and keeps a sign prominently posted reminding people to use “common sense” and wash their hands after feeding or petting the animals, and before eating.
People who visit the Volusia County Fair can also come into contact with animals at the many agricultural displays, including farm animals at the Old Plantation building, but hand disinfectant is available, said spokesman John Owens.
Unfortunately, hand wipes and common sense aren’t always enough. For children who come in contact with the animals, hand washing stations should be available in both the animal free area and the interaction area. An adequate number of hand washing facilities complete with soaps and disposable towels should be provided. The facilities should be accessible, sufficient for the maximum anticipated attendance, and designed for use by both children and adults. Communal basins should not be considered as adequate hand washing facilities.