UK mother warns of E. coli threat from petting zoos

Claudia Erskine was seven-years-old when she fell critically ill just days after visiting Godstone Farm in 2009.

The Argus reports that Claudia, now 11, was one of 76 children under the age of 10 who contracted E. coli O157 at the farm.

claudia.e.coli.petting.zoo.may.14The families who were worst affected by the outbreak settled their damage claims with the farm in court earlier this month.

Claudia’s mother Lucy, 39, told of how “no amount of money in the world” would offset the fact her daughter has to live with the health effects of what happened.

She said it was the “darkest period” of her family but added they were determined to raise awareness of the infection.

The mother-of-three said: “Having lived through the dreadful effects that it had on our family, and nearly losing our little girl as a result, we would ask other parents to think twice before taking children to petting farms.

“I sat vigil by her bedside, terrified and not knowing whether she would have the strength to pull through.

“It seemed impossible to us that our little girl, who had been happy and healthy just a few days before, was now lying in a hospital bed fighting for her life – and all because of a day out at Godstone Farm.”

Claudia was left hospitalised for three weeks, pulling through in what her mother called a “miracle”.

Claudia’s siblings, Niall, six, and Evan, 15-months, also contracted the disease but recovered.

Jill Greenfield, of the law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse, said: “It is tragic that these young children were allowed to skip into this farm completely oblivious to the danger that awaited.”

For information about keeping safe from E. coli go to: farmsafe/ecoli.

And these outbreaks inspired some of our work. Handwashing is never enough.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Zoonoses and Public Health

G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell

Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the US caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

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How hard is it to say sorry? Tiger Woods and UK petting zoo edition

Professional golfer Tiger Woods wrapped up his scripted apology earlier this morning and he at least said he was sorry, while lecturing the media and doing some creepy frat-boy-like high-fives at the end with his buddies.

In Sept. 2009, Godstone Farm petting zoo in the U.K. was shut down by health types after being linked to 93 confirmed cases of E. coli O157 amongst visitors, especially children.

this is surrey today reports that Godstone Farm manager Richard Oatway did his own show-and-tell the other day in a bid to win back customers, including:

• extra hand-washing units and hygiene signs installed around the farm;

• a new ‘look but don’t touch’ platform for concerned families; and,

• a temporary ban on interaction with cows, sheep and goats.

Mr Oatway has implemented the changes despite the fact that results of the Griffin Inquiry into the outbreak are still not published.

Oatway said,

"Lots of parents have been with us for a long time and they realise that E.coli can be present in many animals all the time.”

That’s not much of an apology.

All UK E. coli petting zoo kids released from hospital – illness toll remains 93

The final two children who remained in hospital following the E.coli outbreak at a Surrey farm have finally been allowed home, more than a month after the site was shut down by health officials.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said on Tuesday that the total number of E.coli cases linked to Godstone Farm still stood at 93, adding that "all children have been discharged from hospital."

Twin brothers Aaron and Todd Furnell, from Paddock Wood in Kent (right) underwent dialysis at St Thomas’s Hospital in London after falling ill with the O157 strain of the infection following a visit to Godstone Farm.

Two-year old Aaron Furnell spent six weeks in hospital; he still has to be fed food through a tube.

The site closed on September 12, two weeks after the first case of E.coli was reported there.

A third out of 102 samples taken from animals were found to contain E.coli 0157, and the chief executive of the HPA, Justin McCracken, admitted the agency should have acted quicker in shutting the farm.

An independent investigation has been commissioned and will be led by George Griffin, professor of infectious diseases and medicine at St George’s, University of London, and chair of the advisory committee on dangerous pathogens.

Families affected will be asked if they want to have their say during the probe, which will look at how Godstone Farm was being operated, according to the standards and guidance set for open farms, and the response to the outbreak from all relevant parties.

Legal action is also being planned by some parents of children who were left seriously ill.

A spokesman for Godstone Farm said a decision on when the site will re-open could be made later this week.

Animals test positive for E. coli O157 on Godstone Farm in Surrey, now linked to illness in 67 kids

The BBC is reporting that lambs, pigs, goats, cattle, ponies and rabbit droppings at a Surrey farm at the centre of an E.coli outbreak have tested positive , with a whopping 33 of 102 samples likely to contain the O157 strain of the infection.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the total number of E.coli cases linked to Godstone Farm had risen to 67.

Eight children remain in hospital in a "stable or improving condition."