Preventing Illness Associated with Animal Contact

On this page:
Fact sheet
Where pathogens associated with animals are found
Handwashing
Food, drink, and hand-to-mouth contact
Other contamination issues
Higher risk animals: reptiles, chicks, ducklings, and calves
More information about preventing illness

Where pathogens associated with animals are found

  • All animals, animal environments, or animal products are potentially contaminated with pathogens and should be treated as such.

Handwashing

  • The best way to avoid diseases acquired from contact with animals is to thoroughly wash hands with soap and water after contact with animals or their environments.
  • Handwashing should be supervised in young children.

Food, drink, and hand-to-mouth contact

  • Food, drink, and items that promote hand-to-mouth contact (e.g., pacifiers) should not be permitted in animal contact areas.
    • The food and drink prohibition is critical to preventing disease.

Other contamination issues

  • Accumulating evidence from recent outbreaks at fairs indicates that E. coli O157:H7 can cause widespread contamination of surfaces in animal barns. Therefore food, clothing, and shoes of patrons viewing the animals can become contaminated (even in the absence of direct animal contact).

Higher risk animals: reptiles, chicks, ducklings, and calves

  • Some animals pose higher risk of causing disease in humans. These animals include reptiles (lizards, snakes, and turtles), chicks, ducklings, and calves.
    • Therefore there are special recommendations for preventing disease from these animals.
  • Please note that reptiles, chicks, ducklings, and other young fowl should not be allowed in childcare centers or households that include children under 5 years of age or immunocompromised persons.

  • We recommend that higher risk animals (reptiles, chicks, ducklings, and calves) not be displayed in petting zoos.
    • At fairs and petting zoos children under 5 years of age should not be permitted to enter the pen with the animals.

More information about preventing illness

Updated Friday, 25-Oct-2013 12:18:02 CDT