Recent Central Florida Fair or the Florida Strawberry Festival E coli outbreaks have caused the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to update its website with a list and guidelines for farms and zoos that allow human contact with animals.
Florida Health Secretary John Agwunobi announced recently that there were 14 confirmed cases of petting-zoo related illnesses earlier in the month, including one girl’s death. The illnesses are believed to be linked to E. coli bacterial infections from human-animal contact.
The MDPH’s guidelines include hand-washing facilities, animal health care and ID tags, and strict supervision during visits. Supervisors should make sure that visitors do not sample animal produce (such as raw milk), allow animals to lick them, advise against eating and drinking in or near petting areas, and prohibiting visitors with cuts and wounds from petting animals.
Visitors to all outdoor festivals can heed by following these directions to minimize their risk of E. coli exposure and infection:

  • Wash hands often.
  • Wash hands immediately after contact with domestic or farm animals.
  • Do not eat undercooked meat.