It’s Fair and Festival time! It’s great to go see the farm animals and touch them. Farm animals are commonly a part of the festivities with petting zoos, agricultural fairs, open farms, and shows. However, if you or your children are not normally around farm animals going to see them can put you at higher risk of getting a foodborne illness or other diseases from the animals.
How do you and your family stay healthy and safe?
Wash your hands. It is best to use warm water and soap but if you can’t find water and soap, use some hand wipes.
– After touching animals.
– After touching fences, buckets, or farm equipment.
– After leaving the animal area.
– After removing clothes and shoes, as these can have bacteria on them.
– Before you eat or drink beverages after leaving the animal area.
– After going to the bathroom.
– Before preparing foods.
– Do not eat food or drink beverages in animal areas or where animals are.
– Cover any open wounds or cuts when visiting or working around farm animals.
– Avoid bites, scratches, and kicks from farm animals.
– Be sure to supervise children when they are around animals.
– Prevent hand-to-mouth activities, such as nail biting, finger sucking, and eating dirt.
– Help children wash hands well with soap after interaction with any farm animal.
– Do not let children 5 years of age or younger handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or live poultry without supervision.
– Do not allow toys, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, baby bottles, strollers, or similar items to be in animal areas.
Are farm animals really dangerous to your health? For most people they are not a problem. However, animals carry germs or may have intestinal disease. The animals seem healthy but can harbor pathogens. It is difficult to know if a surface, food or water is contaminated and many pathogens can live for long periods of time. You don’t need to touch an animal or get manure in your hands to be exposed.
“People who eat or drink in animal areas are almost five times more likely to get ill than people who don’t eat or drink there,” according to Jeff LeJeune, a veterinary research with Ohio State University’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center (OARCD) in Wooster.
Children under the age of 5, adults over the age of 65, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions or weakened immune systems are most at risk. Common harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7, Cryptosporodium, and Salmonella are ones that can spread from animals to people. Thus, washing your hands after being around, touching or looking at animals is important. Be sure to wash using warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and rinse thoroughly.