The Department of Agriculture is decontaminating fairgrounds around Central Florida after more than 75 people who attended three fairs got sick with a potentially fatal kidney illness.
The company that ran the petting zoos, Ag-Venture Farm Shows of Plant City, has been under quarantine since the outbreak. Several Central Florida families have already filed lawsuits. Although the three fairs in Central Florida closed more than a month ago, tests from just a few weeks ago showed the strain of E. coli that made people sick was still present at the fairgrounds.
E. coli bacteria can survive on surfaces for roughly 100 days after animals are gone. The Department of Agriculture is using spray machines to decontaminate every part of the fairgrounds where the animals were, from the grazing areas to the barns and pavilions. Crews make sure they cover all of the hay, the manure, and any surfaces the animals came in contact with, wearing protective suits because the chemical used is so strong.
Usually, cleaning with water and chlorine is the only method that fair workers use. However, with the outbreaks, three rounds of the strong decontamination treatments are needed.
“It’s a general purpose disinfectant. It specifically will kill E. coli and it’s a good biodegradable disinfectant. Seven days it will be gone and it won’t wash into the pond,” said Dr. Hank Doten, Florida Dept. of Agriculture.