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Salmonella scare shutters Swedish petting zoo

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Salmonella scare shutters Swedish petting zoo
13:15 CEST+02:00
Concerns about a salmonella outbreak have forced a petting zoo in southern Sweden to close its doors, after it was confirmed that at least one foal was infected with the highly contagious disease.

The foal was housed in the petting zoo area of the Skåne Zoo and officials have now closed down the petting zoo as work continues to find the source of the disease.

The rest of the zoo remains open, however.

Although one park visitor was first suspected of contracting salmonella after petting the zoo's salmonella-infected pony, authorities are now saying there is no information about humans having been infected.

Christina Thörn of the Swedish Board of Agriculture (Jordbruksverket) warns not to jump to conclusions.

"There's no known connection yet," she said to The Local on Friday.

Thörn is backed up by Håkan Ringberg, doctor at Region Skåne's Centre for Communicable Disease.

"There's always a few people in Skåne who are infected with salmonella. In most cases they've been infected overseas. We don't know of any connection to Skåne Zoo," he said to news agency TT.

"It's incredibly unfortunate if a person has been infected, but unfortunately salmonella is very contagious," said zoo director Camilla Jönsson to Kvällsposten.

A foal tested positive for salmonella on Tuesday, and Skåne Zoo has now taken measures to prevent the disease from spreading further, and is currently trying to locate the source.

"We don't know yet where the salmonella in the zoo came from, but are working intensively to chart the disease," said Jönsson in a statement released Wednesday.

"What we know today is that one of our foals has been infected with salmonella. Because of that, all our animals will be tested for salmonella as soon as possible, in accordance with guidelines from the Board of Agriculture."

Signs have also been put up in the zoo, warning visitors not to touch the other animals, and also to wash their hands before eating.

Christina Thörn explained that there is no risk currently involved in visiting the other areas of Skåne Zoo.

"Not if you follow normal hygiene rules. Besides, the areas where you can normally have contact with the animals, and cuddle with them, are now closed," she told The Local.

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