Maine's agriculture department is encouraging families to practice good hygiene at summer fairs after several people were sickened by E. coli last year.

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry says people who're ill shouldn't attend fairs to avoid sickening both human and animals. And the agency says people should wash hands after touching animals and before eating to limit the spread of disease.

Last year, health officials investigated whether two toddlers including one who died, were exposed to E. coli after petting animals at the Oxford County Fair.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the toddlers had the same strain of E. coli but it was unable to connect it to the fair. (AP)