Citing E. coli concerns, Stearns County drops petting zoo


The Stearns County Fair, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, has decided to end its petting zoo exhibit amid concerns that it might spread E. coli.

Last year, five people who attended the fair contracted E. coli, but the Minnesota Department of Health said the fair was not confirmed as the source of the outbreak, the St. Cloud Times reports.

“The one thing we found over the years, no matter how many signs and stuff you put up there’s always going to be somebody that’s going to pet the animals and then they don’t wash their hands afterward,” one fair official tells the Times.

Petting zoos have been the source of three E. coli outbreaks at Minnesota county fairs since 1998 and at dozens of other fairs around the country, says Food Poisoning Bulletin. Last year, an outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina sickened more than 100 people.

Indeed, the concern is now more widespread. "It’s not just our fair, it’s really statewide," one farmer tells the St. Cloud paper.

Of course, there are plenty of animals and eating at the Minnesota State Fair, which is coming soon.

Is E. coli just everywhere? It might seem that way, as just last week there were a number of metro beaches closed due to high rates of E. coli in the water, and that was after three people were infected in the not-so-purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Next Up

Rent, mortgage, house, key, door

Victims of property manager's sexual harassment to get $736,000

It's part of a consent decree announced by the Department f Justice Monday.

The Liffey Pub Facebook

St. Paul's Irish pub The Liffey reveals it won't reopen

The beloved pub has been closed since the start of the pandemic.

Proctor football

Proctor football investigation: Case goes to county attorney

The office will review the evidence and consider possible criminal charges.

kirsten mitchell screegrab

'I’m heading home!': CA reporter announces return to WCCO

Kirsten Mitchell interned at WCCO years ago. Now, she's coming back as a reporter.


As part of price gouging settlement, farm to donate 1M eggs to food nonprofits

The egg producer will donate more than 1 million eggs to nonprofits fighting hunger.

plane, Piper PA-32

Sheriff: Witnesses saw plane 'performing aerial maneuvers' before fatal crash

The single-engine aircraft went down in northern Wisconsin, killing a brother and sister.

Screen Shot 2021-10-25 at 8.51.02 AM

Community rallies around Minnetonka HS dancer battling brain tumor

A fundraiser raised more than $44,000 of its $60,000 goal in the first two days.

twin city gardens

In rare move, MDH takes control of Minneapolis nursing home

The temporary receivership is to ensure resident safety.

Sen Mark Koran crop

Lawmaker deletes post encouraging donations to family charged in Capitol riot

Sen. Mark Koran, in his Facebook post, described them as "a good family!"