Jennifer O’Connor of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Norfolk, Virginia, wrote to the Arizona Daily Star regarding a recent article about petting zoos.

In her letter, she says that she feels the “article did readers a disservice by not warning them about the very real health hazards of petting zoos.”

She goes on to say that “Petting zoos are hotbeds of E. coli bacteria, and numerous children have been infected with this potentially deadly illness after visiting such displays. Some have died. Infections can spread through direct animal contact or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit. Petting zoos have nearly disappeared in Florida after 26 people were confirmed stricken with E. coli, including 23 children, after visiting petting zoos at local fairs. The last thing any parent wants is their child getting sick; avoiding petting zoos is one simple way parents can ensure their kids’ health and well-being.”