handwashing helps prevent petting zoo ecoli outbreaksA coalition that includes the Maryland Association of Agricultural Fairs and Shows, the Maryland Cooperative Extension Service and the state agriculture and public health agencies is demanding that county fair operators should place hand-washing stations near livestock exhibits and limit public access to animals to prevent outbreaks of illness from E. coli and other organisms.
The group’s recommendations are voluntary but the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene may consider regulating such events, spokeswoman Karen Black said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for managing public contact with animals at fairs, farm tours and petting zoos.
Becky Brashear, president of the MAAFS, said county fair operators have been directed to work with their local public health directors on strategies for preventing disease outbreaks. Brashear, who also manages the Great Frederick Fair, said the fair association has made dispensers of alcohol-based hand sanitizer available to county fair operators for at least five years and that the group was looking at the possibility of buying water-equipped hand-washing stations for the fairs.