State agriculture officials have dispatched a team of veterinarians and inspectors to test farm animals that may be linked to life- threatening cases of kidney failure among children and at least one adult who attended recent fairs in Orange and Hillsborough counties.

First stop was Ag-Venture, a Plant City-based farm show that operated petting zoos this month at the Florida Strawberry Festival and the Central Florida Fair.

All the patients with the potentially deadly syndrome had contact with livestock at the fairs.

The state Department of Health on has issued an alert along the Interstate 4 and Interstate 75 corridors, warning of the potential for children who had visited petting zoos at the fairs to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The condition begins with diarrhea and can progress to kidney failure.