The Associated Press reports that fewer of the events at fairs in North Carolina will have petting zoos due to an E. coli outbreak at last year’s State Fair that left more than 100 people. Fifteen of those who picked up the bacteria, mostly young children, continue to fight the disease and may need kidney transplants.
E. coli disease has become more common in recent years for several reasons, said David Marshall, state veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture.
First, the bacteria are more easily diagnosed with modern tools and may have become more harmful than in past generations. In addition, the modern urban population may not have the immunity that built up among rural residents.
Existing guidelines keep visitors from being in animals’ stalls or holding areas, and they require visitors to immediately wash their hands after leaving. More rules may be on the way.