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Petting zoo cases of E. coli rises to 24

Associated Press

April 4, 2005

ORLANDO -- Two more people have contracted an E. coli infection, raising to 24 the total number of confirmed cases traced to a petting zoo outbreak from three central Florida fairs, state health officials said Monday.

Twenty-one children and three adults either tested positive for the infection in their stool or else had a potentially fatal kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. All in the past two months had attended the Central Florida Fair in Orlando, the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City or the Florida State Fair in Tampa. The same company, Ag-Venture Farm Shows of Plant City, supplied the animals at the three fairs.

Owners of Ag-Venture Farm Shows did not return a phone call for comment Monday.

Orange County had the most cases at 13, followed by Volusia, six, Pasco, two, and one each for Charlotte, Collier and Seminole counties.

Twenty of those cases could be traced to the same strain of E. coli, said Florida Secretary of Health John Aguwnobi, who planned to visit an Orlando hospital Monday where patients were treated for the outbreak.

Of the 22 cases that required hospitalization, most of the patients have been released, he said.

"Fortunately, we've had no deaths associated with this outbreak," said Aguwnobi during a telephone conference call. Aguwnobi added that there were an additional 40 suspected cases, involving 26 children and 14 adults.

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