In a report on the outbreak CDPHE implicated the "Feed the Animals" exhibit as the source of the 2009 E. coli outbreak.
At the 2009 National Western Stock Show, the petting zoo and food vendors were located in the same floor, a practice that makes it more likely for children to ingest animal feces containing E. coli and other pathogens. The "Feed the Animals" area included calves, goats, lambs, pigs and other farm animals brought into the exhibit from area farms and ranches. There was also a "petting zoo" on the second floor.
"We were not successful in pinpointing the exact animal that may have caused the outbreak," investigators wrote. "We hypothesize that an animal (or animals) in the "Feed the Animals" area was likely shedding E. coli O157:H7 in its feces and contaminated the pen enclosure, pen bedding materials, floor and/or other environmental surfaces."
Hand sanitizers were available in the area, but not hand washing facilities with running hot water, soap and paper towels. Signs did not warn that animals could spread diseases. The state recommended the stock show install more hand washing stations and educate parents about the risks to their children.