Fair and Petting Zoo Safety

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

2001 E. coli Outbreak at a Petting Zoo in Worcester, Pennsylvania

An article published by WebMD Medical News on April 23, 2001 (Bloomquist, 2001), reported an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 among visitors to the Merrymead Farm petting zoo in Worcester, Pennsylvania. In all, 16 children who had visited the zoo contracted E .coli, and it was suspected that another 45 people became ill from the bacteria.  The report indicated that one week after visiting the zoo, one of the children came down with violent stomach cramps and was hospitalized.  A few days later, and after being released from the hospital, the patient was diagnosed with kidney failure. It is believed that 26 cows on the farm were carrying the E. coli bacteria, and that exposure may have occurred as visitors rode in a wagon which was caked with mud and animal manure, or as they touched animals that may have been infected.