The Flint Journal reports that the increasing phenomenon of bacterial infection outbreaks from exposure to animals have led experts to produce guidelines for staying safe at petting zoos, county fairs and rodeos this summer.
Even healthy animals can make people sick, and the most common way for transmission is fecal-oral route, according to the CDC. But fur, hair, skin and saliva can be contaminated too with fecal organisms.
Transmission occurs when people pet, touch, or are licked by animals and then eat or touch their mouths without washing their hands. What often happens is that a toddler will pet a sheep or goat, then stick his fingers in his mouth, as children often do.
Guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control urge handwashing, staying clear of animal enclosures and steering families to places that have handwashing stations.
They certainly can go and visit (petting zoos), but handwashing should be a part of the day, said Dr. Wailed Abuhammour, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Hurley Medical Center.