San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak – Ron Simon Represents Many of the Victims

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San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak – Ron Simon Represents Many of the Victims

Zoonotic Outbreaks and San Diego Petting Zoo
  • Tony Coveny | Jul 16, 2019

San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak Leads to Multiple Victims Making a Claim Against the Operators of the Zoo

Don’t pet the animals? For most of us, getting in close proximity to cute farm animals is a novel thing. Unless you live on a farm, you likely don’t have access to goats, sheep, or pigs.  Going to a petting zoo, then, especially for a child, is exciting stuff. For kids, hands on interaction with farm animals can boost an appreciation for nature, promote healthy living, improve motor skills and even cement compassion for other living beings. So really, as long as we practice good hygiene, there are loads of benefits with getting up close and personal with these creatures. Unfortunately, the risks are also real and plentiful, as demonstrated by this latest outbreak of E. coli infections at the San Diego Zoo. So far, 11 children have tested positive for having contracted this bacterial infection and one child, 2 years of age, has died.

The recent outbreak tied to the San Diego Zoo does not have a definitive source, but authorities point to the petting zoo as the common link. The 11 children confirmed to have been exposed to E. coli, and those deemed to be cases of probable exposure, visited the zoo between June 8th and Jun 16th 2019. Symptoms of illness started to surface June 10th to June 16th, and the child who ultimately died from his E. coli exposure did so on June 24th.

So, although visiting a petting zoo or farm has many educational benefits, the prevention of E. Coli exposure and infections from other bacteria from animals should be top priority. E. Coli is one of the most common bacteria found in everyday things. And, because it cannot directly infect us through our skin- we can mitigate exposure by following a few simple ‘rules’. After interacting with farm animals, for example, it is important to not touch our eyes, mouth or nose before washing up. The E. coli cannot come through our skin; however, it does travel through our mucus membranes. So, by touching an animal contaminated with E. coli, or a surface with the contamination, or, by eating food that has come in contact with E. coli, we can easily transmit the bacteria into our own bodies.

Ultimately, operators of these facilities have an obligation to prevent the spread of communicable diseases – they have the power to police their environments, control the animals, and prevent the spread of disease.  But while guests to a petting zoo cannot unilaterally prevent exposure when the facility is not properly operated,  to help prevent harm, like that caused in the San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak, there are a few things parents can do:

  • Washing hands thoroughly – even if you and your loved ones do NOT touch animals (feces may be on surfaces, counters, fences, etc…)
  • Keep hands away from face before washing – most people touch their own face dozens of times per hour
  • Keep food and animals separate – avoid eating in close proximity to surfaces the animals could have touched
  • Change clothing after visits with farm animals as a precaution, as the feces can travel from the shoes to the counters we later place them on – especially since kids are often changed on tables, beds, on even countertops.
  • Avoid all contact with animal feces while in their environments, wash shoes after visit to be certain!

Exposure to E. coli, in this case the Shiga toxin that causes the E. coli (or STEC) infection can lead to kidney failure (known as hemolytic uremic syndrome) or even death, as in the worst case of this San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak. At minimum, the symptoms, which can surface after a multi-day incubation, can include bloody diarrhea and vomiting, fever and severe stomach cramping.

For more information about this San Diego Zoo E. Coli Outbreak, or to speak to a Food Poisoning Lawyer already representing many of the victims involved in this case, call 1-888-335-4901.

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