E. Coli Death Linked to Popular Summer Activity

Take care to prevent infections caused by animals

July 2, 2019

In the summer, many companies organize picnics for their employees and families, complete with volleyball and softball games, bouncy houses, and other family-friendly activities. Although traveling petting zoos are a popular way entertain workers with small children, facility managers are responsible for infection control and may want to think about the infection threat these cuddly critters pose.

Contact with goats, sheep, llamas, and other petting zoo animals can lead to the spread of E. coli, especially in young children who frequently put their hands, and other objects, into their mouths. Four children ages 13 to 2 were recently infected with E. coli after visiting a petting zoo at the San Diego County Fair. The two-year-old was hospitalized and died of complications from the infection.

Numerous E. coli outbreaks have been linked to petting zoo animals over the years, according to the Food Poison Journal. Venue operators and facility managers can take several steps to help prevent people from catching illnesses from animals such as:

  • Instruct visitors not to eat, drink, smoke, and place their hands in their mouth, or use bottles or pacifiers while in the animal area.
  • Post signs or otherwise instruct visitors to wash their hands when leaving the animal area.
  • Provide accessible handwashing stations for all visitors, including children. Position staff members near exits to encourage compliance.
  • Do not permit animals, except for service animals, in nonanimal areas.
  • Make sure people store, prepare, serve, or consume food and beverages only in nonanimal areas.
  • Provide handwashing facilities and display handwashing signs where food or beverages are served.


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