Tips to stay safe and healthy at summer animal exhibits

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In this Friday, April 6, 2018 file photo, cows stand at Nate Elzinga’s farm in Zeeland, Mich. (Neil Blake/The Grand Rapids Press via AP, File)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE): With summer fairs and festivals around the corner, the Allen County Department of Health wants to remind families to practice healthy handling at petting zoos and other exhibits.

The most common germs that can come from animals are E. coli O157:H7, Cryptosporodium, and Salmonella. Children younger than five years old, adults over the age of 65, and other people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get sick with germs from animals and should take extra precautions at animal exhibits.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the following to stay healthy and safe while interacting with large crowds of people and animals:

  • Wash your hands
    • Locate hand washing stations
    • Wash hands right after touching animals or anywhere near animals
    • Wash hands when leaving animal areas, even if animals are not directly touched
    • Running water and soap are best, but alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60-percent alcohol work temporarily
  • Keep food and animals separate
    • Don’t eat or drink around animals
    • Don’t share food with animals
  • Keep children safe around animals
    • Always supervise children around animals
    • Children younger than five years old should not touch reptiles, amphibians, or live poultry due to their weakened immune systems
    • Leave items such as strollers, pacifiers, cups, or toys outside of exhibits
    • Don’t let children put anything in their mouths when in or around an animal area
    • Don’t let children sit or play on the ground in animal areas
    • Teach children to approach animals with caution and follow the rules. Make sure to follow any rules provided on signs or verbally by exhibit staff

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