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Jackson County Fair takes steps to prevent E. Coli infections

Four kids were infected with E. Coli after visiting a petting zoo at the San Diego County Fair. One of them died. Now, the Jackson County Fair is taking extra precautions.

Posted: Jul 1, 2019 6:45 PM

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. -- Middle schoolers and high schoolers throughout the country worked hard to show their animals at the Jackson County Fair. They have to go through multiple examinations to make sure their animal is healthy. 

"They're only allowed to bring healthy animals to the fair in the first place," said Lena Hosking, 4H Jackson County Youth Development Director. "All of their animals have received veterinary care and they will continue to receive veterinary care should they need it here at the fair."

Once they get to the fair, their job isn't done. 

"They're washing their animals and they're cleaning out the pen stalls constantly," said Hosking. 

This helps stop livestock from spreading E. Coli to people. Animals can carry the bacteria in their intestines and humans become infected if they accidentally ingest livestock feces. 

"If they put their fingers in their mouth or if they eat food with touching the contaminated fingers, that's how the organism gets inside their stomach and gets in their intestines, and causes the problems,"said Hosking. 

It's easy to avoid this, just wash your hands. If you don't have access to a sink and soap, it is okay to use hand sanitizer or sanitary wipes. 

"From the  minute you come into the ground, there are water stations and hand washing stations all the way around all the barns and the food row," Funk said. "So at any given time, you're probably within 10 to 20 feet of a handwashing station."

Parents should especially keep an eye on little kids, especially ones that suck their thumbs.

"If you've got one of those kiddos that is going to be a thumb sucker and you can't help that, maybe they don't touch the animals," said Funk. "Maybe that's a rite of passage for years down the road."

Officials at the fair still encourage parents and children to come see the animals that are being shown. 

"Don't be scared," said Funk. "There's no reason to be scared of any of these animals."

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