Petting zoos hold dangers


The recent petting zoo at the Linn County Fair should have been a reminder about the very real health hazards of petting zoos (“Fairly sizzling,” July 26).

Petting zoos are hotbeds of E. coli bacteria, and numerous children have been infected with the potentially deadly diseases after visiting such displays; some have died. Infections can spread through direct animal contact or simply by touching the surroundings near an animal exhibit.

Twenty-two people were hospitalized, including 12 children who developed kidney failure, after being infected with E. coli at the 2002 Lane County Fair in Eugene. It was thought that the bacteria made contact with visitors’ hands by way of the dust in the sheep barn.

The largest E. coli outbreak in Oregon state history sickened as many as 42 people who visited animal displays at a county fair in August 2002. Four children were hospitalized, including three who had to be put in intensive care.

The last memory any parent wants is of their child getting sick; avoiding petting zoos is one simple way parents can ensure their kid’s health and well-being.

Jennifer O’Connor

People for the

Ethical Treatment of Animals

Norfolk, Va.