RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—With petting zoo and county fair season right around the corner, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers some commonsense recommendations to prevent turning an animal learning experience into a fight against nasty bacterial infections or even tapeworm. The zoonotic diseases, ones transmitted from animals to humans, that pose the highest risk include infection from bacteria and parasites such as E. coli and salmonella. Tapeworm can even be transmitted to humans if fleas from bug-infested animals hitch a ride and bite—that's why it's best to steer clear of any exhibits where the animals are unhealthy or obviously irritated.
Still, don't let tales of tapeworm and salmonella keep you from learning about animals firsthand at fairs, farms, or other educational outlets. Just be sure to wash your hands after visiting an animal area (that includes if the animals come to you—some exhibits visit schools), and if you're at a fair, circus, pet store, or petting zoo, avoid taking food or drink into the animal area. That will keep your hands away from your mouth and help prevent transmission.
For more information (and to see our ridiculous petting zoo video), please check out: