Updated: 08/12/2014 8:16 PM
Created: 08/12/2014 3:31 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
The Minnesota Department of Health has linked 13 cases of E. coli to a traveling petting zoo.
Health officials say the outbreak is linked to Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo. The petting zoo was at four separate events, and each event had at least one case of E. coli. The events include the Nashwauk 4th of July Festival, Polk County Fair, Rice County Fair and Olmsted County Fair.
Health officials were able to link the cases to the petting zoo because the bacteria in all of the cases have the same DNA fingerprint. The cases range in age from 2 to 68 years. Seven of the people with E. coli have been hospitalized.
Zerebko Zoo Tran has been cooperating with the investigation and didn't bring any animals to the last two county fairs it was scheduled to attend in August.
Health officials say there could be more cases that haven’t been diagnosed or reported yet.
These illnesses are a stark reminder that E. coli O157:H7 can be present in event the cleanest of animal operations,” said Dr. Joni Scheftel, MDH State Public Health Veterinarian.
People can reduce their risk by not bringing food, drinks or items that promote hand-to-mouth contact to animal areas and washing hands with soap and water immediately after visiting the animals.