The American Society for Microbiology informs us that most visitors aren’t aware that simple prevention measures could prevent possible gastrointestinal illnesses from visiting petting zoos.
Simple handwashing after visiting the petting zoo, including lathering with soap and washing hands before eating and after visiting the petting zoo, were found to protect against infection from bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella.
In a survey run by researchers from the Tennessee Department of Health, the use of hand-sanitizer stations at the exits of petting zoos in middle Tennessee were monitored. Of the 1,700 visitors, approximately 62% did not use the hand-sanitizer station after visiting the petting zoo. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control conducted a similar survey, and found that 28% did not use handwashing facilities.
In addition, both surveys found that fairgoers would often eat food from concession stands after visiting petting zoos, and eat foods normally eaten with fingers without prior sanitization. Even worse, some fairgoers would bring food and drink into the petting zoo areas and eat the food there while touching animals.