As the local county and state fairs start popping up around the Midwest it is time to get out and enjoy the sights, sounds, smells and taste of the fairs. There is nothing more fun than taking the kids to see all of the exhibits and vendors. Particular favorites for most families and young kids is the animal petting zoo or walking through the livestock exhibits. Even though the animals are healthy you still need to help teach your child proper preventative health care around the animals.
There are certain diseases that animals can contract or carry which can also be passed between animals and humans. These are called zoonotic diseases and they can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. Some of the more common zoonotic diseases contracted in these environments include: Salmonella, ringworm, Lyme’s disease, West Nile Virus, rabies and E.coli.
One of the more common pathogens that can often be found where animals are located which can be transmitted from animals to humans is Escherichia coli 0157:H7 (E.coli). This disease can cause mild to severe illness in people.
So while you and/or your child are visiting these animal exhibits keep a few things in mind so you do not fall victim of an unwanted zoonotic disease.
- Keep food and drinks out of the animal housing areas.
- Do not share food or drink with animals.
- Do not drink unpasteurized milk or juices.
- Wash hands after being around animals or playing with pets, before eating, before preparing foods, after removing soiled clothes or shoes, and after leaving the animal area.
- Use prevention so you are not bitten by a tick or mosquito, which can act as vectors of disease transmission between animals and humans if they have bitten both an animal and human being. This is especially important to prevent West Nile and Lyme’s disease.
Keep in mind that if your child is under five years old extra supervision with certain things is needed…
- Never allow children to put their hands or objects (for example pacifiers) in their mouth while with the animals.
- Supervise hand washing.
- Try not to take strollers, bottles, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, or toys into animal areas.
- Do not let children crawl around areas where animals are housed.
For more information visit the CDC Zoonotic Diseases website.