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Children Get E. Coli at Petting Zoo

LANSDALE, Pa. (AP) — As many as 21 children became infected with E. coli during a visit to a petting zoo, health officials say.

Two of the children, girls ages 3 and 4, remained on kidney dialysis Tuesday.

E. coli infections have been confirmed in 12 of the children and are suspected in nine others. All of them had visited Merrymead Farm.

Investigators from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been at the farm collecting feces and analyzing the water supply and animal health to try to pinpoint the source of the bacteria.

Farm owners Mark and Stacy Rothenberger confirmed Monday that their 4-day-old son, Dayne, died Oct. 14 of a combination of E. coli, sepsis and meningitis, but said doctors told them the boy did not have the same strain of E. coli as the other children.

Montgomery County Health Department director Robert Gage said his agency was told of the first case on Sept. 15, and warned hospitals, schools and day care centers after the second case was reported on Oct. 5.

E. coli can be spread through contaminated food or water, contact with animal waste or through person-to-person contact. The farm has signs advising visitors to wash their hands after touching the animals.

In July, an E. coli outbreak that sickened at least five children was traced to animals at a petting farm at Everett, Wash.
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