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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Is it past time to ban animals at state fairs and petting zoos?

I can hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth over such an un-American suggestion.

petting_5423.jpgYet again the CDC is reporting on yet another “multiagency task force is being created in North Carolina to evaluate the preventive measures that were in place during the 2011 state fair and to identify additional interventions that could be applied to prevent disease transmission in livestock exhibitions where physical contact with the public might occur.” Hmm, didn’t that happen after the 2004 North Carolina State Fair E. coli Outbreak that resulted in 187 illnesses, 15 of which were complicated by HUS?

Now the CDC is reporting about another E. coli outbreak – this time at the 2011 North Carolina State Fair, held October 13–23 in Raleigh. According to the CDC, twenty-five cases were identified with case-patients’ illness onsets during October 16–25; median age was 26 years (range: 1–77 years). Eight case-patients (32%) were hospitalized; four (16%) experienced HUS.

Once again the only exposure associated with illness was having visited one of the permanent structures in which sheep, goats, and pigs were housed for livestock competitions.

For more information on past outbreaks and preventative measures, see www.fair-safety.com.

  • Absolutely… how long do we keep on treating the symptoms and not the cause?? Yet another task force to evaluate the (same) issue… Resolve the core issue, don’t just compile a report on the risks.

  • Art Davis

    By extension this should include a ban on FFA (Future Farmers of America) kids handling and showing animals, and indeed in many cases more or less living in the barns at county and state fairs? How about farm kids handling animals on the family farm? Perhaps there is a risk / benefit analysis to be done somewhere along the continuum. A possibly analogous situation finds a number of kids severely injured and a few killed every year in High School Football even with major improvements in equipment and rules. The sport goes on because the benefits, physical conditioning, team participation, and learning commitment to the many are seen as worth the risk to the few.
    Learning about animal agriculture has to involve contact with animals. Let’s look at the value of that learning, determine how to best mitigate (Accepting that we cannot eliminate) the risks then carry on knowing full well , as do parents of High School athletes, that the values of the activity are balanced against a real and ever present risk.

  • hector Chaparro

    Honestly this is ridiculous, how are babys, kids and teenagers supposed to get any antibodies if we keep protecting them from everything, in the past we didint have this many issues since people where exposed as kids to Dirt, Animals, the Environment and they developed inmunities.
    Currently this society has gone crazy with excessive cleaning and sanitation, our bodies cant even fight a normal cold because we werent exposed to anything when we where growing up.
    Go play outside with animals and dirt and go back to developing some natural resistances.

  • I guess this is under the theory “what does not kill you makes you stronger”?

  • Art Davis

    I think the theory is that there are activities that have both risks and benefits and that logic dictates we be willing to balance the risk against the benefit in deciding whether or not to participate in specific activities. Deciding who, private individuals or some organized group, should do the risk / benefit analysis and then determine availability of or participation in such activities is a good question and the basis of many religious, political, and personal arguments. Bill, I don’t think the petting zoo example or many of the food safety issues of the day are quite as black and white as you would have us believe.

  • Give It Up, Already

    Sure, let’s do away with livestock exhibits at fairs. Why not?
    And let’s do away with seasonal fairs and carnivals too, while we’re at it. You obviously intend for all of us to be eating nothing but organic beans and squash. And we will always have the cheap carnival excitement of your re-tooled Food Safety News blog (now “Food Wingnuttery News) with its eager bouncy staff of HSUS shills.
    Sell everything out, what the hell. How long before you begin stumping to promote raw milk, Bill?

  • Mrs. Mudder

    Hello,
    I would NOT health-gamble with the possible HUS at any so called Fair!!!
    Hey! Get a grip your life is short so why shorten IT?????
    Thanks, Bill for some more information for those of us that want a little
    longer, comfortable life. Let them wail and gnash, the gamble instinct is dicey, expensive, and not my wish.!!!
    Thanks,
    Mrs. Mudder

  • Winona Wingnuttery

    Or we could encourage the 4-H and FFA kids to stand at the exit doors and advise the visitors, “seriously, now wash your hands.”

  • Simon Sez

    Oh these fairs that have animals are so cruel.
    Cruelty is everywhere so people and animals cannot coexist.
    Until Greenpeace can get the planet converted over entirely to virgin wilderness we must work with HSUS to exterminate all animals. No animals, no cruelty. That’s our goal.
    And get all people conforming to our narrow dictates, that’s another of our fine, fine goals for this hopelessly troubled world. We are doomed if we don’t. Doomed I say.

  • Bill Anderson

    I’ve got an idea. Let’s ban automobiles on public streets. They are a menace that causes air pollution, and untold numbers of deaths and injuries every year.
    I’m not joking here folks. Cars are way more dangerous than fair animals or raw milk for that matter.

  • susan Rudnicki

    Mr Marler—I read your profile and some of the pieces here. One thing that concerns me in the continuing drama of increasingly toxic food borne illnesses is the link to our industrialized food model. Some 70% of the antibiotics used in America are prophylactic treatment for CAFO animals and scientists are gravely concerned with the number of organisms exhibiting resistance to drugs we have always relied on for treating human illness. Your litigation focuses on only the outcome of this ecologically devastating model of food production and as far as I can see, none of your education fields include study of the Agricultural systems that introduce these CAFO models as the height of achievement for animal husbandry. Animals raised under these conditions spread the resistant organisms far and wide, so banning the petting zoo or the fair animals is not going to solve any major issue, in my opinion. I grew up in constant contact with horses, chickens, steers, cows, calves and pigs. None were raised with antibiotic protocols. I have been a vegetarian for 30 years as a result of my biology major in college and learning the things I outline above. My brother, interestingly, has also worked for the USDA in Washington, DC for the last 32 years, in the Foreign Ag. Service—–basically, a promotion service arm for the CAFO model to be urged on any other country not currently practicing this animal husbandry model. It is a egregious, irresponsible, and reckless self-serving promotion of a highly flawed practice, and I have many heated conversations with him over the poor service it is and will render to the countries signing on to it. So my purpose in writing this is to point out, your diatribe on the problems of petting zoos, ag. fairs, etc. is missing the bigger and much more dangerous root—our arrogant challenging of scientific and environmental fact that we will out-wit microscopic infective organisms going the path we are traveling in industrial/corporate food production models.

  • Hector Chaparro

    Lets ban seaworld and all city and wild aninal parks, they have animals
    Dont want to get sick when giving a sardine to a dolphin