• Petting zoo to vigorously defend lawsuits in E. coli outbreak case


    CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - The petting zoo that is being sued by the family of an 18-month-old who got sick at the Cleveland County fair said it will vigorously defend accusations that its animals are the source of the outbreak.

    The Tennessee-based ranch that operated the petting zoo told the Gaston Gazette that the petting zoo was one of thousands of animal contact exhibits at the fair.

    It said it was not negligent.

    Health officials said one child died and more than 100 people got sick at the fair, and the outbreak started at the petting zoo.

    A lawsuit was filed Wednesday morning on behalf of Maiden mother Amie Westfall and her 18-month-old son.

    Other suits have been filed by the family of 5-year-old Hannah Roberts as well as a Cherokee County family.

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