Interesting Pet Cases

This month we feature a case that does not involve illness in animals, but rather illness in humans. Timmy and Sarah were so looking forward to their upcoming trip to the state fair. They got out their books every evening and read about all the farm animals they were going to see. 5 year old Timmy's favorite farm animal was the goat featured in one of his bedtime stories. He had seen drawings and photos of goats, but soon he would get to see a real live one.

His 7 year old sister told him all about her school field trip last year to the petting zoo. She described in detail how you got to put a coin in the candy machine and it gave you pellets of animal food instead of candy. The animals would eat the food right out of your hand! Sarah's favorite was the pony because she loved the pony rides she had been on at the pumpkin patch last fall.

Timmy and Sarah were on their best behavior during the days leading up to the fair. They were going to eat lots of junk food, and ride the thrill rides, but most of all it was the contact with the animals they dreamed about. At the fair, they first went to see the sheep to see if she had any baby lambs with her. They fed the pony and the cow and they were able to pet the goat, the sheep and even the pig! They worked up such a big appetite, they almost inhaled their hot dogs and popcorn. The rides were a blast, and after a long tiring day, Timmy and Sarah rode home with their parents falling fast asleep in the car.

The next morning both kids were feverish and developed vomiting and diarrhea. The pediatrician knew right away what to suspect because his brother was a veterinarian, and had told him to be on the look out for children with signs of dysentery after visiting petting zoos or other animal exhibits. The main pathogens isolated in these events include Cryptosporidium, E.coli, and Salmonella. It is worthwhile for us city folk to learn about farm animals, and these animal exhibits offer children an opportunity to learn a great deal about the world around them. The most important factor in preventing disease transmission at these events is THOROUGH HAND WASHING. For more information about this particular topic, visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at