E. coli outbreak linked to petting zoo in Minnesota

St. CLOUD, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Health is warning people about E. coli infections linked to a traveling petting zoo.

At least 13 people, including three in Olmsted County, have developed E. coli infections in an outbreak connected to the Zerebko Zoo Tran petting zoo.  Those infected, range in age from two to 68 years old and seven of them have been hospitalized, including three children.

The most recent appearance of the Zerebko petting zoo was at the Olmsted County Fair from July 21st through the 27th.  Authorities say the zoo owner has been cooperating with their investigation, and withheld his animals from the last two county fairs where they were going to be exhibited.  Infections have also been traced to the zoo’s stops at the Nashwauk 4th of July Festival, the Polk County Fair and the Rice County Fair.

State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Joni Scheftel says E. coli “can be present in even the cleanest of animal operations.”

State health officials says they are currently following up with one more case, and additional infections associated with attending the Olmsted County Fair could still be identified.

Symptoms of E. coli typically include severe stomach cramps and diarrhea, often with bloody stools, but only a low-grade, or no fever.  People usually become ill two to five days after exposure.

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