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- Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 1:00 pm
POSTED: 8:27 am EST March 25, 2005
UPDATED: 1:20 pm EST March 25, 2005
Officials have confirmed nine cases of life-threatening kidney infections thought to be linked to trips to Central Florida petting zoos, Local 6 News has learned.
Hospitalized children and adults touched animals recently at area fairs, including the Central Florida Fair in Orlando and the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City, according to officials.
Several new cases of children with hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, were added to the total Thursday, including a child in Wisconsin who was in Orlando two to three weeks ago. However, the child did not go to a fair while visiting the area.
The potentially dangerous kidney condition is a rare complication arising from an initial infection most commonly associated with E. coli, a bacterium found in undercooked beef or contaminated food.
With the exception of the new case in Wisconsin, doctors believe the hospitalized children all touched animals recently at area fairs, including the Central Florida Fair in Orlando and the Florida Strawberry Festival in Plant City. They might have been exposed to the bacteria through the animals' feces, officials said.
"We do have some information that some outlying ERs have cases of diarrhea in children who had been to petting zoos," Florida Hospital Doctor Mehul Dixit said.
Local 6 News reported that three patients are being watched at an emergency room in Altamonte Springs.
A father of one patient said his daughter is still going through kidney dialysis.
"Right now she has kidney failure she has no function barely, if any, and the only way to get it back to functioning is with the dialysis," father Shawn Starcher said.
Health officials said people should wash their hands after visiting petting zoos.
Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, lethargy, anemia and decreased urine output, which are all signs of kidney failure.
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