Two more people have contracted an E. coli infection likely from petting zoos at Central Florida fairs. This raises to 24 the total number of confirmed cases. Twenty-one children and three adults either tested positive for the infection in their stool or else had a potentially fatal kidney disease known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. One confirmed case is from Collier county, while one is from Charlotte. Florida Secretary of Health John Aguwnobi says of the 22 cases that required hospitalization, most of the patients have been released. He says though, that lab tests still have not determined the exact source of the strain of ecoli bacteria know as 0157-H7.
"It is possible. It is conceivable we may never get a match although there are many tests pending as it relates to the animals. Having said that we've actually found 0157h7 in at least one of the animals tested. Although it's not the same strain it clearly indicates that there is 0157 present. Now the point that I'm trying to make is that the testing isn't the only way that we determine where the arrows are pointing."
Agwanobi says interviews with the people involved frequently lead to the source. Science may not be accurate because the animals may have already shed the bacteria prior to being tested.
All the victims had attended the Central Florida Fair in Orlando, the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City or the Florida State Fair in Tampa in the past two months. Ag-Venture Farm Shows of Plant City supplied the animals at the three fairs. There are also 40 suspected cases - including 6 in Charlotte, 1 in Sarasota and 1 each in DeSoto and Hardee counties.
Tuesday, 05 April 2005 01:00