The Union-Democrat reported today that for the second time in two years, children who were in the livestock barns at the Calaveras County Fair have tested positive for E. coli. For the second time in two years, children who were in the livestock barns at the Calaveras County Fair have tested positive for E. coli. Three exhibitors, ages 13, 14 and 17, who had cattle at last month’s fair were found to have the bacteria in their systems.
From the article:
“How many people would take their kids in a stroller to visit a feed lot?” attorney Bill Marler asked in a phone interview from his Seattle office. “It’s a little bit bizarre to think about, but it just goes to show that the public doesn’t understand (the dangers associated with livestock).”
“It’s a much bigger problem than the general public certainly knows,” he said of E. coli at fairs.
He is currently awaiting an October trial date for the Lane County Fair case. He represents 22 children, eight of whom suffered from hemolytic uremic syndrome, a resulting kidney complication. One of the children needs a kidney transplant.
“There was a failure to warn the public of the risks of attending the county fair and there were inadequate hand-washing stations,” Marler said.
The Lane County fairgrounds had three hand-washing stations and now has 26, he said.
Calaveras County’s fairgrounds has four hand-washing stations and nine sanitization stations, Giannini said. They were put in before the 2002 E. coli cases, she said.
“The experts all sort of feel that had there been additional hand-washing stations and notices for people to wash their hands and notices for people to be alert to the risks … that outbreak, and frankly most zootonic outbreaks, wouldn’t occur,” Marler said.
“The reality is we have to sort of adapt to these emerging and changing pathogens,” he said. “The fair industry is so wrapped up in the Americana of apple pie and the 4-H cows and cotton candy … they haven’t come to grips with the fact that this can kill people.”
Testing an option?
Animal feces should be tested before animals are taken to fairs, Marler said.
“You could do a stool culture on a cow, and if they test positive, you don’t let the cow come to the fair, period,” he said. E. coli can be transient in animals, meaning an animal may test positive for it one day and negative the next, but, “at least you’re taking a real good strong shot at eliminating cows that you know are positive.
“The technology exists to do that and it’s very cheap, like $50,” he said. “It should be the price of admission — if you want (the animal) to be shown, you pay the price to have this test done.”