Parents may wonder if taking their kids to petting zoos might not be a good idea due to the recent E. coli outbreaks in Central Florida, but following a few simple tips can help keep children healthy when playing with animals.

“Animal(s are) contaminated with its own bacteria even when it’s healthy, and many of those bacteria are dangerous, pathologic (which can) cause disease to human beings,” said Dr. Mark Tanenbaum, a pediatrician.

With the right precautions, many experts and parents agree taking a child to a petting zoo is worth the very small risk:
• Avoid any petting zoo where the animals seem dirty or sick.
• Make sure kids know not to put their fingers in their mouths after touching the animals.
• Make sure to wash hands with soap and water before leaving the zoo.
Running water and soap and paper towels, that’s the way to go, Tanenbaum says.