E. coli outbreak linked to Minnesota petting zoo

Oct. 29, 2013 at 12:58 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Three children sickened with E. coli in Minnesota appear to have contracted the infection at a petting zoo, health officials say.

The link among the three appears to be Dehn's Pumpkins in Dayton, Minn., ABC News reported. The children picked up a dangerous E. coli strain known as O157:H7, the same strain involved in the 1993 outbreak linked to a Jack in the Box restaurant.

While two of the Minnesota children are recovering, the third remains hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome. The youngest infected was 15 months old; the oldest, 7.

"This is a peculiar strain of E. coli," said Dr. William Schaffner, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, describing the initial infection symptoms as intestinal cramps and diarrhea. "The intestinal infection is bad enough. But what can follow is this kidney problem, which can take a week to three weeks to appear."

Dehn's Pumpkins has closed the petting zoo while the outbreak is under investigation although other parts of the farm remain open.

Schaffner said the best way to make sure children or adults do not pick up infections at petting zoos is thorough handwashing afterwards. He suggested parents carry hand sanitizer in case the zoo does not have a sink with soap.

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