Isaiah Peters is usually an active little boy. The 3 1/2-year-old red-headed youngster loves to kick his soccer ball around the backyard and play “Guitar Hero.” But instead, Isaiah is lying in a hospital bed in Minneapolis, where he is fighting through a painful illness, H.U.S., a complication of E. coli that can cause kidney

As spring beckons and families begin flocking to petting zoos, fairs, and other animal venues, a few people are coming down with serious illnesses. Some of the latest incidents occurred in Florida, where 60 people in 18 counties have confirmed or suspected cases of E. coli-related illness. The sources were petting zoos in three central Florida counties, and children have been the most vulnerable.
Similar incidents seem to be on the increase, says Jeff Bender, an assistant professor of veterinary public health at the Univ. of Minnesota and co-chair of a March 25, 2005, report published by Centers for Disease Control, prepared by the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians, and endorsed by the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
A list of about two dozen documented incidents in the past decade or so (in IL, MN, OH, NC, NY, OH, OR, PA, TX, WA, WI, the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Ontario, and a few overseas locations) has been assembled by a Seattle law firm (Marler Clark, William Marler, 206-346-1890). Some of these incidents, which affected a total of more than 1,000 people, are highlighted in the CDC report.


Continue Reading SERIOUS HUMAN ILLNESSES LINKED TO SOME ANIMAL EXHIBITS

Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm representing several victims of the recent Florida E. coli outbreak, is calling on legislators nation-wide to put into law requirements for the protection of petting zoo visitors.
Proposed requirements include increasing signage and warnings about health risks associated with human-animal contact, providing adequate handwashing facilities at strategic locations throughout petting zoos, and designing petting zoos with the intent of reducing the risks of human contact with animal feces. An outline of proposed requirements is available at the Marler Clark-sponsored Web site www.fair-safety.com.
“I realize the measures we are proposing might seem extreme,” said William Marler, managing partner of Marler Clark. “But we’re looking at this from the standpoint of having represented dozens of children who visited petting zoos and ended up with kidney failure and life-long medical conditions.”


Continue Reading Marler Clark Calls for Legislation to Protect Visitors at Petting Zoos

UPI also did an article on the trickling in of lawsuits in the outbreak of kidney failures among children who have visited petting zoos in Florida. Statewide, there are 24 confirmed cases of E.coli infection and 40 suspected cases.
The lawsuits allege Ag-Venture should have done a better job protecting visitors from the bacteria and

As the Times reported in their article “Seattle lawyer says his client may join other cases against Ag-Venture Farm Shows,” Marler Clark filed a suit on behalf of Yvonne Miller, an Orlando mother of three, alleging Ag-Venture should have done a better job protecting fairgoers from exposure to pathogens.
As the number of people who

A seventh child in central Florida has contracted a life-threatening kidney infection after visiting a petting zoo in Orlando. Five of the seven children were hospitalized in critical condition, including one on dialysis, the Orlando Sentinel reported for Thursday editions. Another had been upgraded to stable condition, said Dr. Mehul Dixit, who is treating some

On Wednesday, the Orlando Sentinel reported that at least five children were in critical condition in Orlando-area hospitals with Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a potentially life-threatening cause of kidney failure. All visited a petting zoo the week before they became ill.
There’s nothing more American than a petting zoo. Countless numbers of children visit petting zoos to have a hands-on experience with farm animals every year. Unfortunately, some children become ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections – the leading cause of Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome in North America. In fact, it is estimated that five to ten percent of persons who become ill with E. coli infections develop Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome.
Most people identify E. coli with undercooked ground beef, but it’s not that simple. E. coli infections are caused by the ingestion of fecal material. So a burger becomes contaminated during the slaughtering process, and children can become infected while playing with livestock that are shedding the bacteria. Just as proper sanitation in slaughterhouses is essential in preventing foodborne illness outbreaks, good hygiene and sanitation in areas where livestock are held are of utmost importance in preventing E. coli outbreaks among petting zoo visitors.
Lightning does strike the same spot twice, or even more often.


Continue Reading Lightning Strikes the Same Spot Twice

There’s nothing more American than the county fair. From Washington and California to New York and Texas, countless millions of people are visiting their local fairs to ride the rides, feast on cotton candy and hot dogs, and to visit those cute farm animals.

Unfortunately, some of the visitors to fairs will get very sick. And the sickest ones, most of them small children, may be close to death before their doctors identify the cause – a relatively new strain of deadly bacteria known as E. coli O157:H7.

Most people identify this pathogen with undercooked hamburgers from fast food restaurants. But as a lawyer who has represented thousands of victims of food-borne illness, I have learned that people, especially children, can be infected in a variety of ways – including attending a local county fair or petting zoo.

Any place where people come into contact with farm animals must be considered high risk. The track record speaks for itself. Since 1995, thirteen outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported at fairs and petting zoos. Thousands have been sickened. Many escape with a bad case of diarrhea and cramps. But some, mostly kids, have suffered permanent damage to their kidneys.
And some have died.


Continue Reading E. coli and the County Fair

NBC17.com also did a story about my Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo lawsuit. From their article:

“Twenty-four outbreaks have been linked to fairs and petting zoos since 1995,” said attorney William Marler, of the Seattle law firm Marler Clark. “Any operator of a petting zoo should be well-versed in the ways of preventing E. coli infections

As the Associated Press reported yesterday, I filed my lawsuit against Crossroads Farm Petting Zoo Friday on behalf of my clients whose young children got HUS from E. coli contamination at the North Carolina State Fair. Some of these families have more than $100,000 in medical bills, so this won’t be a cheap lawsuit. Not