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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Common Sense for Petting Zoos and Fairs

One again the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians has set forth a reasonable way for Petting Zoos and Fairs to “play it safe.” For a complete overview of the study, click on link below.  For an overview of the history of this problem and my work to combat it, visit, www.fair-safety.com.  It will be interesting to see if the recommendations are ignored as usual.

Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2007

Contact with animals in public settings (e.g., fairs, farm tours, petting zoos, and schools) provides opportunities for entertainment and education. However, inadequate understanding of disease transmission and animal behavior can increase the likelihood of infectious diseases, rabies exposures, injuries, and other health problems among visitors, especially children, in these settings. Zoonotic diseases (i.e., zoonoses) are diseases transmitted from animals to humans. Of particular concern are instances in which large numbers of persons become ill. Since 1991, approximately 50 human infectious disease outbreaks involving animals in public settings have been reported to CDC. During the preceding 10 years, an increasing number of enteric disease outbreaks associated with animals in public settings (e.g., fairs and petting zoos) have been reported.

Although multiple benefits of human-animal contact exist, infectious diseases, rabies exposures, injuries, and other human health problems associated with these settings are possible. Infectious disease outbreaks reported during the previous decade have been caused by Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Coxiella burnetii, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, ringworm, and other pathogens. Such incidents have substantial medical, public health, legal, and economic effects.  Major recommendations:

  1. The recommendation to wash hands is the single most important prevention step for reducing the risk for disease transmission.
  2. Other critical recommendations are that venues not allow food in animal areas – venues include transition areas between animal areas and nonanimal areas.
  3. Visitors be educated about disease risk and prevention procedures, and animals be properly cared for and managed.