E. Coli Litigation

A resource for E. Coli Outbreak Legal Cases sponsored by Marler Clark

AnimalsView Outbreaks

E. coli Outbreaks have been associated with fairs and petting zoosWhile some diseases are host-specific, meaning that they can only occur in one animal species, many others, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter jejuni, can be spread between different animal species, including from animals to humans. These diseases are collectively known as zoonotic diseases.

E. coli and other zoonotic diseases can be transmitted by a variety of routes. Some documented ways include direct and indirect contact with infected animals, airborne exposure to infective agents shed by animals, consumption of animal products, consumption of water that has been contaminated by animal fecal material, or exposure to insect vectors such as fleas or ticks.

Previously, the primary mode of transmission of E. coli and other zoonotic diseases at agricultural fairs, petting zoos, and farm visits was thought to be fecal-oral, that is, by ingestion of bacteria-laden feces via contaminated food or water, or transfer by hand to mouth following contact with contaminated surfaces or animals. Recent fair-associated E. coli O157:H7 outbreak investigations suggest that ingestion or perhaps even inhalation of contaminated dust particles may also be a vector of infection.

A 2012 North Carolina E. coli outbreak was traced to a petting zoo at the Cleveland County Fair. At least 106 people were infected with E. coli O157:H7 after visiting the fair. Twelve people were hospitalized—some with hemolytic uremic syndrome—and a 2-year-old boy died after exposure to E. coli at the fair, which investigators determined could have occurred either through direct animal interaction or through exposure after heavy rains carried E. coli bacteria from the petting zoo area to other areas of the fair. See Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit.

At least 6 people who visited the Lake Forest Park Petting Zoo in Everett, Washington in June, 2011 became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections. The Snohomish County Health Department investigated the E. coli outbreak and determined that there was a "clear association between disease and being in the open animal interaction area of the forest Park Animal Farm." Investigators determined that direct interaction with calves, and indirect exposure to contaminated surfaces were both associated with E. coli infection.

In 2005, the AgVenture Farms petting zoo was associated with an E. coli outbreak among attendees at the Central Florida Fair, Florida State Fair, and Florida Strawberry Festival. Animals from the AgVenture Farms petting zoo were present at all three events. An indistinguishable strain of E. coli was isolated from victims of the E. coli outbreak, as well as from animal exhibit areas and from samples collected from animals associated with the petting zoo. At least 73 people became ill with E. coli infections during the outbreak, including 12 people who developed HUS. See AgVenture Farms Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreak Litigation.

Animals can carry E. coliIn 2004, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was traced to the Crossroads Farm petting zoo at the North Carolina State Fair. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services received over 180 reports of illness; the majority of cases occurring in children five years old and younger, and fifteen children developed HUS. Environmental samples obtained from four fairground areas grew E. coli O157:H7; nineteen of thirty specimens obtained from the Crossroads Farm petting zoo grew a strain of E. coli O157:H7 that was indistinguishable from that isolated from case-patients. See Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo E. coli Lawsuits.

An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak was associated with attendance at the Lane County Fair in Lane County, Oregon, in 2002. The Oregon Department of Human Services (Oregon, 2002) reported that 56 primary and 14 presumptive secondary cases of E. coli were identified in what is believed to be the largest E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Oregon history. Several children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). During the outbreak investigation, E. coli was found on pipes 15 feet in the air. In an explanation as to how these pipes could have become contaminated with E. coli bacteria, a state epidemiologist from the Oregon Department of Human Services suggested that the microorganisms must have been present in the dirt and dust. See Lane County Fair E. coli Outbreak Litigation.

More information regarding E. coli outbreaks traced to fairs and petting zoos is available on the Marler Clark-sponsored Website about Fair Safety.

  • AgVenture Farms Petting Zoo E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    The E. coli lawyers at Marler Clark represented several families whose members became ill with E. coli and HUS after visiting three petting zoos operated by AgVenture Farms in 2005.  The AgVenture Farms petting zoos implicated in the outbreak were exhibited at the Florida State Fair, Central Florida Fair, and the Florida Strawberry Festival.

  • Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit

    Marler Clark filed 2 E. coli lawsuits against the Cleveland County Fair and its petting zoo operator, Circle G Farms, after an E. coli outbreak was traced to the North Carolina county fair’s petting zoo. At least 106 E. coli cases were traced to the fair and its petting zoo.

  • Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo E. coli Lawsuits

    Marler Clark filed E. coli lawsuits on behalf of the families of several children who became ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after attending the Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo at the North Carolina State Fair in October, 2004. Two of the children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome. The case against Crossroads has been resolved. E. coli Litigation against the State of North Carolina is still pending. 

  • Lane County Fair E. coli Outbreak Litigation

    Marler Clark’s E. coli lawyers represented many victims of an E. coli outbreak that was traced to attendance at the 2002 Lane County Fair.  82 confirmed E. coli cases were ultimately tied to the outbreak, but public health authorities were not able to trace the outbreak to a specific source at the fair.