WHEATLAND (CBS13) — A pumpkin farm south of Marysville is set to open for the season after making major changes to its petting zoo following an E. coli outbreak last year.
Roughly 180,000 people will come through the gates of Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm during the seven weeks they’re open this fall.
“We spent a lot of time last winter thinking about whether we should even have animals,” said Wayne Bishop, the Co-Owner of Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm.
Bishop says the decision was difficult after an E. coli outbreak last year was linked to their farm.
“Five to 10 people who were seriously ill,” said Bishop.
According to a report by the California Department of Health, E. coli was detected in fecal matter found in more than a dozen samples from the petting zoo. Thirteen people reported an illness and exposure to the petting zoo. Several children ended up in the hospital for observation.
“With all that rain, it’s very possible that bacteria was washed out of the pens out into areas that people were walking,” said Bishop describing one theory of how people may have contracted the bacteria.
So what changes were made to the petting zoo at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm this year?
- The animals are now vaccinated
- Guests are required to watch a health and safety video
- The pens are redesigned to keep waste and water away from guests.
- Bishop added more hand washing stations near the entrance and exit making it nearly impossible to leave the petting zoo without washing your hands.
“If you want to be able to pet animals, this is the safest place in the world to do it,” said Bishop.
As the farm readies for another year, safety and sanitation are front of mind.
Neither the state or Yuba County health departments issue a penalty or citation to Bishop’s farm. It did offer recommendations for improvement which Bishop says were acted on.
The pumpkin farm opens Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’ll be open for the next 7 weeks.