The News Record reports that Several outbreaks of E. coli associated with petting zoos last year have all but ended the practice at the Central Carolina Fair.
Now, all adults and children can do is pause at the fence and wave. Some stand on the lower metal rungs and reach across the empty space to sneak a quick rub.
Last fall, 108 people contracted E. coli at North Carolina’s State Fair. Fifteen of those cases, mostly young children, were life-threatening, and many of those children may need kidney transplants in the future. Earlier this year, five children suffered kidney failure after visiting the petting zoo at a Florida fair. In 2000, 21 children fell ill after visiting a petting zoo in Pennsylvania.
The state is mulling over legislation that would govern how to best show off the animals while protecting people. The new guidelines, according to David Marshall, the state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, do not completely prevent animal contact.
“We are adamant that we do not want to do that,” he said. “We are restricting some of the ways people come in contact.”
Current guidelines prohibit visitors from being in animals’ stalls or holding areas, and they require visitors to immediately wash their hands upon leaving. But until new legislation is finalized sometime in the spring, local fairs are taking no risks.