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E. COLI INFECTIONS LINKED TO PETTING ZOO ANIMALS

An outbreak of E. coli bacteria in Florida that has caused kidney disease in several people has been definitively linked to animals from petting zoos at three fairs, state officials said Friday.

Epidemiologists matched DNA from E. coli bacteria in six animals -- two goats, two sheep and two cows -- to the DNA in the bacteria contracted by the victims. All six animals came from Ag-Venture Farm Shows.

E. coli infections have been confirmed in 26 people, including 23 children, who attended the fairs. Eight remained hospitalized this week; no one has died from the disease.

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said Ag-Venture had cooperated fully with the investigation and voluntarily was quarantining the animals permanently.

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