About E. coli

From the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness outbreaks.

About E. coli Blog

Petting Zoo Health Concerns

Many diseases carried from animals to humans show no signs in the animal but can be potentially fatal to humans, such as ringworm, cat scratch fever, bacterial diarrhea, and E coli. All of these diseases can be prevented by common sanitary practices, especially hand-washing.
In the case of E. coli, most forms of the bacteria are not harmful. However, E. coli 0157:H7 causes not only gastroenteritis, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and diarrhea, but can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, which destroys kidneys and can be fatal.
The source of E. coli 0157:H7 is usually contaminated meat; unpasteurized milk, cheese, orange juice, or apple juice; and contaminated drinking water (or swimming pools). Petting animals can also be a possible source, especially in petting zoos where fecal matter may be present.
Treatment for HUS requires hospitalization and blood transfusions. About 50% of children with HUS develop permanent kidney damage and require dialysis and kidney transplant. About 5% with HUS will die.
The following measures should be taken to reduce the risk of HUS:
• Wash hands with warm water and soap after handing animals, using the restroom, or changing diapers.
• Do not eat undercooked hamburger meat (the center should be heated to more than 160 degrees F and will not look pink when done).
• Freeze all meat that will not be eaten in 48 hours.
• Do not thaw frozen meat at room temperature (on counters).
• Place meat on the lowest rack in the refrigerator to prevent dripping on other food.
• Do not use the same surfaces/plates for uncooked and cooked meat.
• Wash food utensils thoroughly between uses.

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