Family sues over 2011 NC state fair outbreak; tarantula harms 3-year-old at birthday

Brangelina may or may not have a petting zoo for their kids in France, but a Shelby family is suing North Carolina for up to $500,000 after their three-year-old son contracted  an E. coli infection at the state fair in 2011.

A lawsuit that was filed said medical bills for Hunter Tallent, who was 2 courtlynn.petting.zooyears old at the time he got sick, totaled nearly $90,000.

Their attorney said they believe that the Department of Agriculture did not do enough to warn and protect people. 

“We believe they just didn’t have enough signage, stations, soap and water, hand sanitizer, and they could have done a lot more,” said attorney Sean Cobourn. 

In Toronto, a family thought it would a good idea to host a birthday party for their three-year old son and a dozen friends featuring a baby kangaroo, an owl and a tarantula.

According to the National Post, just seconds after their toddler held the furry arachnid, he began to blink, rub his eye, then cry, for hours, and in the days after.

Alison Litzinger and her husband, Matt, later learned the Rose Hair tarantula, brought by the exotic animal handler they hired, shot tiny barbed Rose Hair tarantulahairs into their son’s eye — a little-known defence mechanism other than the poisonous bite most people fear.

“It was pretty traumatic for our son,” said Mrs. Litzinger. “We tried to wash his eyes out, and he just started screaming at the top of his lungs.”

These microscopic fibres, called urticating hairs, cause stinging and itching when in contact with the skin. When in a person’s eye, however, the tiny barbs of the hair hook in, slowly sinking deeper into the eyeball and potentially causing damage to vision, making it very difficult, if not impossible, to remove, said Dr. Kamiar Mireskandari, an ophthalmologist at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at