Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: petting zoos

Petting Zoos, Outbreaks and Denial

Posted in Other animals, Parasites
I think petting zoos can be great. I’ve taken my kids to many and think they’re a great way for people to see and interact with animals they would not normally encounter. However, there’s always some risk, and petting zoos range from exceptionally well run to horrible. It seems like there’s been steady improvement over… Continue Reading

Agritourism Infection Prevention

Posted in Other animals
Agritourism is becoming a big industry. As our society gets more urbanized, there’s increasing interest in visiting farms and similar environments. Things like farm visits and petting zoos can be great, especially for kids. They’re also sometimes associated with infectious diseases, most often in kids. Some agritourism events are well run and take a lot of… Continue Reading

Boo Boo gets pardoned, but so much for stress relief

Posted in Other animals
Let’s put this one in the "smart people doing stupid things" file. Some well-intentioned people at Washington University in St. Louis thought they’d help relieve stress during exam time by bringing in a petting zoo – that unfortunately included "Boo Boo" the biting bear. As you can likely guess, problems ensued. 18 students sustained skin-breaking… Continue Reading

Salmonella and fair poultry exhibits

Posted in Birds
As fall fair season starts, concerns about petting zoo outbreaks rise. While deficiencies are still common, petting zoos seem to be getting better with their infection control measures. People too are starting to get better at doing what their asked to do – namely washing their hands after visiting these exhibits. However, as we’ve shown… Continue Reading

Petting zoo ramblings…

Posted in Other animals
Today, we went to the University of Guelph‘s annual open house, College Royal. As per usual, we only covered a fraction of the events, but had to do the traditional visits with the animals and get some of the Food Science milkshakes (even thought it was -2C outside). Animals are a big part of College… Continue Reading

Petting zoo pathogens

Posted in Other animals
The 15 cm of snow that fell last night is as good of an indicator as any that agricultural fair season is over in this region. But, planning ahead is important (and often not done well with fair petting zoos), so it’s never to early to make a plan for next season. Petting zoos can… Continue Reading

Petting zoo E coli: Wales

Posted in Other diseases
It’s perhaps a good sign for public health when I don’t tend to come home from a local fair and write a rant about the sorry state of the petting zoo. Around here, things seem to have improved at most events over the past few years, probably largely because of the efforts of local public… Continue Reading

Petting zoo deficiencies

Posted in Other animals
We’re fully into petting zoo season now, with these types of exhibits appearing at a variety of agricultural fairs and similar events. This also unfortunately means that we’re into petting zoo outbreak season, since there’s always some risk of disease associated with the type of animal contact people have at these displays. There are some… Continue Reading

Petting Zoo E coli outbreak

Posted in Other animals
It’s been a while since I wrote about petting zoos. Part of the reason is that the state of petting zoos in this area has improved quite a bit over the past few years, so I haven’t been coming home from fairs or other events with a need to vent. However, improvements are not universal, and… Continue Reading

New petting zoo guidelines

Posted in Other animals
As petting zoo season approaches (along with petting zoo-associated disease outbreak season, unfortunately), it’s important for people who run petting zoos and other animal contact events to think about what they do to reduce the risk of infecting visitors. No petting zoo will ever be 100% safe, because any person-animal contact (just like any person-person… Continue Reading

Do you wash your hands at a petting zoo?

Posted in Other animals
Petting zoos can be great events (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!). I end up visiting many with my kids every year.  Despite the fact that a few petting-zoo-associated disease outbreaks also occur every year, and despite the fact that I deal with infectious diseases every day, I still don’t get too concerned… Continue Reading

Cryptosporidiosis and petting zoos: England and Wales

Posted in Other animals
Petting zoos are very common in the UK (as in many other regions), where approximately 2 million people visit 1000 different petting zoos every year. While the vast majority of petting zoo visits are simply pleasant outings associated with no problems, some people leave with more than just memories… they leave with an infectious disease. … Continue Reading

Petting zoo disease prevention

Posted in Other animals
Around here, fall fair season is getting into full swing. Fall fairs can be a lot of fun for kids and adults alike, with midway rides, livestock shows, horse events, lots of good (and bad for you) food… and petting zoos. Petting zoos can be entertaining and educational, but they are also the source of… Continue Reading

Cryptosporidiosis from wildlife centre lambs

Posted in Other animals
The May 2010 edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases contains a report about an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis in Scotland (McGuigan et al. 2010). Cryptosporidiosis is a common parasitic disease caused by Cryptosporidium, a protozoal parasite. It causes diarrhea, which is usually annoying (to say the least) but self-limiting in healthy people, but the infection is potentially fatal… Continue Reading

Rabid calf at educational centre

Posted in Other animals
Rabies has been diagnosed in a 6-week-old Jersey calf at a Maryland educational centre, raising concerns about exposure of farm visitors, particularly groups of school children. At least 70 kids and an unstated number other visitors had recently visited the farm. Fortunately, the farm in question is not open to the public, so they should… Continue Reading

Vancouver petting zoo outbreak numbers climb

Posted in Other diseases
Five more E. coli O157 infections have been linked to the Pacific National Exhibition‘s petting zoo, bringing the total to 18. It’s very likely that the true number of infected people is higher, since mild cases are often missed because they don’t go to the doctor or because testing is not performed. This situation follows… Continue Reading

Fergus Fall Fair folly

Posted in Other diseases
Considering all of the disease outbreaks that have been attributed to petting zoos, including an outbreak in the UK this month that has sickened dozens and another in Vancouver that has affected at least 13 people, you would think that people who operate petting zoos would start to take the hint. Unfortunately, that’s clearly not the… Continue Reading

Petting zoo outbreak investigation continues

Posted in Other animals
The investigation into a large E. coli O157 outbreak linked to a UK petting zoo continues, and the number of potentially exposed people is astounding. There are a couple of reasons that I write a fair bit about petting zoos, and they are highlighted here: the potential for exposure of a large number of people and the… Continue Reading

Petting zoo improvements

Posted in Other animals, Salmonella
The last time I visited the Aberfoyle (Ontario) Fall Fair, the petting zoo was so bad that I ended up writing to the fair organizers and the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health Unit. (Neither group replied). It was pretty bad. Young poultry are inappropriate petting zoo animals because of the risk of transmission of bacteria like Salmonella, yet baby… Continue Reading

Petting zoo zebra bites off finger

Posted in Other animals
A zebra in Buffalo Beal’s Animal Park in Maiden, North Carolina, bit the hand of a nine-year-old girl, severing her finger. The girl was feeding the animal when it bit off most of her right pinkie finger. Her father had to hit the zebra a few times to get it to release her hand. The… Continue Reading

HIV/AIDS, kids and pets

Posted in Cats, Dogs, Other diseases, Parasites, Salmonella
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Opportunistic Infections Among HIV-exposed and HIV-infected Children. A small but still important part of this document involves recommendations for contact with animals. It’s a nice, balanced document that acknowledges the risk but doesn’t make unnecessarily restrictive recommendations. Among… Continue Reading

Testing petting zoo animals

Posted in Other animals
I received the following comment in response to a recent E. coli O157 and petting zoos post, and thought that it merited a post of its own. "Why doesn’t the petting zoo owners have a fecal swab sample taken from each animal in the petting zoo and submitted for STx PCR screen testing.  If a… Continue Reading