But for Terra Perrigo and her parents, Laura and Terry Perrigo, it was nothing but a nightmare. Terra -- along with more than 100 people, mostly children -- was infected with E. coli at last year's state fair.
Doctors say Terra now has a chemical imbalance in her brain as a result of her exposure. Her parents and five other families are suing the petting zoo.
"She's constantly crying over nothing," Laura Perrigo said. "She doesn't trust us. She's scared a lot, doesn't sleep well."
With just 11 days before the
2005 state fair
, state lawmakers and health officials are determined to do more to protect others from E. coli and other diseases that can be spread from animal contact.
Senate Bill 268
, which went into effect Oct. 1, instructs the North Carolina Department of Agriculture to come up with a process to permit petting zoos in the state.
A task force has already come up with a list of guidelines sanctioned by the department that petting zoos must follow to operate in North Carolina. Visitors to this year's state fair will see many changes as a result of the new law and guidelines from the Department of Agriculture.
Some of the guidelines require:
The Department of Agriculture also wants to discourage visitors from hand-mouth contact -- such as eating, smoking or using a pacifier -- while in the petting zoo.
The Perrigos say the law is a step in the right direction.
"I want to make sure this doesn't ever happen again," Laura Perrigo said. "Part of my daughter's childhood has been taken away from her."
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