Fair and Petting Zoo Safety

A resource for fair and petty zoo legal cases and outbreak prevention, sponsored by Marler Clark

1997 E. coli Outbreak at Farms in Cornwall and West Devon, United Kingdom

Milne et al (1999) investigated an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with a farm in the United Kingdom during June and July, 1997. A Vero cytotoxin producing Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection was observed in three children, one who lived on an open farm and two who visited the farm during school parties. Two of the three children developed HUS: one with severe neurological impairment.  Isolate patterns from the three children and environmental samples were indistinguishable by molecular typing, providing evidence of a link between human contact and the farm environment.

The farm was closed voluntarily for six weeks, while recommendations to reduce the risk of transmission were implemented. These recommendations included reassessing provisions made for general hygiene, including making sure adequate hand washing facilities were available; strict segregation of eating and drinking areas from the animal contact area; reinforcement of precautions to be taken by visitors; reassessment of the species type and age of animals kept in the touching barn; prohibition of visitor exposure to fecal contamination (e.g. manure heaps, etc.); elimination of visitor use of cattle trails (i.e foot paths) unless devoid of fecal contamination; implementing a “no touch” policy in various parts of the farm trail, like the calf pen area; enhancing decontamination of the goat paddock by putting it out of use a few weeks before the visits and keeping the grass short; performing rigorous detergent cleaning in areas of public access and appropriate use of disinfectants; and prohibiting public access to the milking parlors and calving barns.