Rabbits blamed as E coli infects 10 children

Wild rabbits thought to have infected children with e coli in Norfolk, England

source:James Meikle
The Guardian, Nov 9 2001

Wild rabbits are thought to have infected two adults and 10 children under ten-years-old with a type of E coli infection, an outbreak which could lead to changes in regulations. The outbreak occurred at Thrigby Hall wildlife park in Norfolk, England, from July to September 2001. Hospital treatment was needed by four of the victims, one of whom suffered renal failure. New fencing has been put up at the park, and rabbits have been killed. Vets believe that the rabbits transported the infection from cattle dung at a farm near the park.

Large-scale killing of wild rabbits is not seen as practical due to their large numbers, and there could also be protests. It is also difficult to erect rabbit-proof fencing using wood or wire, and brick walls with foundations are more effective. There is safety guidance for wildlife parks, children’s farms, and those setting up outdoor events, for example on handwashing facilities and dung removal.