State agriculture investigators spent the day disinfecting the Central Florida Fairgrounds, making sure there were no traces of E. coli bacteria at the petting zoo that may have made more than two dozen kids sick recently.
“The fair people have gone through and removed all the manure and straw and bedding and then they power-washed and chlorinated and used hot soap and water on the barns. They’ve asked us to come down and use a general purpose disinfectant to kill any bacteria,” said Dr. E.H. Doten, of the Florida Department of Agriculture.
A number of children became critically ill and nearly died from Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, the kidney disease that results from E. coli.
Shannon Smowton was rushed to Arnold Palmer Hospital last month because of the vicious infection she picked up at the petting zoo after a trip to the Central Florida Fair. She was put on dialysis, but the infection had already spread to her brain, paralyzing her left side.
Six weeks later, she has recovered enough to be released from the hospital, but rather than going home, her parents have to take her to a rehab center in Jacksonville, where therapists will work to get the strength back in her legs. If all goes well, she could be home in a few weeks.
At the peak of the outbreak, there were 30 confirmed E. coli cases and another 37 suspected cases. The state determined that petting zoos at the fairgrounds and two other sites, all owned by AgVenture Farm Shows, was the source of the outbreak.