All News / Outbreaks /

While E. coli is potentially deadly simple precautions can send it packing

The recent E. coli outbreaks in Florida set off alarms among county fair organizers, zoo operators and extension service agents nationwide.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports that in Utah, children are most likely to come in contact with barnyard animals at working farms such as Thanksgiving Point’s Farm Country, Salt Lake County’s Wheeler Farm and the American West Heritage Center in Cache County. Petting yards are also often offered at county fairs, as well as the Utah State Fair, and some 4-H clubs bring animals on visits to elementary schools.

Utah does not license or regulate petting zoos or animal exhibits, but “we do encourage them to make sure their animals are healthy,” said Larry Lewis, public information officer for the Utah Department of Agriculture. “Petting zoos are a recognized risk factor for this type of E. coli, so it is something we are always vigilant for,” said Marilee Poulson, a state food-borne disease epidemiologist.
“Many kids just see [barnyard animals] in books or goofy comic strips, so they do want to touch them,” said Debra Stielmaker, director of the Agriculture in the Classroom foundation for Utah State University Extension Services. According to the CDC, 73,000 Americans develop E. coli infections each year.
USU’s Extension Service and the Health Department all promote the single best method of avoiding an infection – hand washing. Soap and water are the gold standard for protection, but hand sanitizers are a great substitute.
“We stress the point that when you work with animals, touch animals, you should always wash your hands. Milk a cow, wash your hands. Pat a goat, wash your hands,” says Mack Dalley, Farm Country director. They offer soap and sanitizers – as well as a fluorescent lotion that illuminates any bacteria that still remains. They also do not allow guests to eat food while inside the farm, and work closely with USU Extension Services to make sure it is providing as safe and educational an experience as possible.

Get Help

Affected by an outbreak or recall?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

Get a free consultation
Related Resources
E. coli Food Poisoning

What is E. coli and how does it cause food poisoning? Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a highly studied, common species of bacteria that belongs to the family Enterobacteriaceae, so...

E. coli O157:H7

E. coli O157:H7 is a foodborne pathogen that causes food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 is the most commonly identified and the most notorious Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) serotype in...

Non-O157 STEC

Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli can also cause food poisoning. E. coli O157:H7 may be the most notorious serotype of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), but there are at least...

Sources of E. coli

Where do E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) come from? The primary reservoirs, or ultimate sources, of E. coli O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC in nature are...

Transmission of and Infection with E. coli

While many dairy cattle-associated foodborne disease outbreaks are linked to raw milk and other raw dairy products (e.g., cheeses, butter, ice cream), dairy cattle still represent a source of contamination...

Outbreak Database

Looking for a comprehensive list of outbreaks?

The team at Marler Clark is here to answer all your questions. Find out if you’re eligible for a lawsuit, what questions to ask your doctor, and more.

View Outbreak Database