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Enjoyment of San Diego County Fair Marred by STEC Cases


In common with recent county fairs, San Diego reported a cluster of ten cases of E.coli infection with a strain producing a Shigella-like toxin (STEC). Based on previous outbreaks associated with county fairs, it is presumed that infection was acquired at the petting zoo. The San Diego County Fair ran from early June through July 4th and attracted 1.5 million attendees.

Investigations are in progress to ascertain the source of STEC and to define the epidemiologic factors contributing to infection of children. Most county fairs take place in the fall and appropriate preventive measures including hand washing or the use of alcohol wipes and possibly avoiding direct contact between children and ruminant livestock are under consideration. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians and the CDC have posted recommendations on their respective websites. It would indeed be unfortunate if petting zoos, a feature of county fairs, were to be eliminated. Intensified preventive measures are obviously indicated if petting zoos are included in programs.