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E. coli outbreak linked to animals at Minnesota fairs

Forum News Service

ST. PAUL -- A traveling Minnesota petting zoo has been linked to an outbreak of E. coli infections in several counties.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, cases of E. coli have been found among 13 people, seven of whom have been hospitalized. The department has linked the cases to Zerebko Zoo Tran of Bovey. The business was at four events in July: the Nashwauk Fourth of July Festival, July 3-5; the Polk County Fair, July 9-13; the Rice County Fair, July 15-20; and the Olmsted County Fair, July 21-27.

Additional cases still could be linked to the Olmsted fair, as it was the most recent, according to the department.

Environmental and animal fecal samples collected from the petting zoo yielded a strain of E. coli bacteria.

The business’s owners have been cooperating with the state’s investigation and voluntarily withheld animals from two recent fairs they were scheduled to appear at in August, according to statement from the Health Department.

Outbreaks associated with cattle, goats and sheep are common each year, the department said. It advised visitors to petting zoos to avoid hand-to-mouth contact and wash their hands thoroughly after visits.