Tips for Preventing the Spread of E. coli at Petting Zoos

Updated: 08/14/2014 6:56 PM
Created: 08/14/2014 6:49 PM
By: Meghan Reistad

(ABC 6 News) -- Whether it is the corndogs, cattle or carnival that brings you out to the fair, chances are you will find something entertaining at the Steele County Free Fair. 

 “We think it is Minnesota’s largest county fair,” said Dan Deml.

In 2013, more than 350,000 fairgoers were in attendance.

“A lot of folks come every day, and some come more than once in a day,” said Deml.

One exhibit is taking extra precautions this year.

“Petting zoos, barn yard, the livestock is a huge part of the fair, it’s what the fairs are about,” said Vogel’s Exotic Animal Shows Owner Kevin Vogel.  “We take this very serious. This is a very serious issue, as you can see right behind us here, we have a sign that says to wash your hands. We’ve got everything available for you to take precautions necessary.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 13 cases of E. coli have been found in Minnesota this summer, all connected to one traveling petting zoo. 

MDH also says people usually get sick if they swallow germs after touching an infected animal, but those germs can also be spread through surfaces like gates and animal pens.

One of the best ways to prevent an E. coli infection is through hand washing. Another preventative step is to keep food and drinks out of areas with animals. 

“If you’re in the petting zoo, or livestock area, you need to wash your hands. It’s common sense,” said Deml. 

Photo: ABC 6 News