CDC Warns of Disease Transfers from Animals

A girl at a petting zoo

The CDC's new guidelines on contact with animals in public places come on the heels of several cases in which Florida children became severely ill after visiting petting zoos. hide caption

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The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention issue new guidelines aimed at minimizing the risk of disease transmissions from animals to humans. The move comes after several Florida children contracted severe kidney disease following visits to petting zoos earlier this month.

Michele Norris speaks with Dr. Jeff Bender, a veterinarian with the University of Minnesota who helped craft the new guidelines.

CDC Guidelines on Animals in Public Places

Below are some of the CDC's recommendations for reducing the risk of disease transfers from animals to humans. The CDC says its guidelines should be applied in settings in which animal contact is possible (such as county fairs) or in which direct animal contact is encouraged (such as petting zoos).

  • Areas where animal contact is possible should have entry and exit points that facilitate proper visitor flow through transition areas. These transition areas should include educational information and hand-washing facilities.
  • Fences, gates or other types of barriers can be used to restrict uncontrolled access to animals and animal contact areas, and to ensure that visitors enter and exit through transition areas.
  • Animal feed and water should not be accessible to the public.
  • No food or beverages should be allowed in animal areas. Smoking, carrying toys and the use of pacifiers, spill-proof cups ("sippy cups") and baby bottles should not be permitted in animal areas.
  • Signs informing visitors that they are entering an animal area should be posted at the entrance to transition areas. These signs should also instruct visitors not to eat, drink or place their hands in their mouths while in the animal area.
  • Visitors should be discouraged from taking strollers, baby bottles, pacifiers, food and beverages into areas where animal contact is encouraged or where contact with animal manure or bedding can occur.
  • Visitor traffic should be controlled to avoid overcrowding the animal area.
  • Exit transition areas should be marked with signs instructing the public to wash their hands. Hand-washing stations should be available and accessible to all visitors, including children and persons with disabilities.
  • The CDC says handwashing is the single most important step people can take to reduce the risk of disease transmission.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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