130 sick, 12 outbreaks; alert over sickness at UK petting farms

Public Health England says, so far this year, there have been 12 disease outbreaks linked to petting farms across England, affecting 130 people.

The advice is to wash your hands with soap and water – antibacterial gels ekka.petting.zooand wipes will not always work.

Dr Bob Adak, head of gastrointestinal diseases at Public Health England, said: “These outbreaks of illness serve as a reminder for anyone visiting a petting farm of the need to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water after they have handled animals or been in their surroundings – particularly before eating.

“Although we can avoid obvious dirt there will be millions of invisible bacteria spread all around the farm which can get onto our hands.

“By being aware and by doing these simple things we can help to avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out.”

Anyone with kids knows these suggestions are not simple.

We have additional suggestions, but they’re under peer review at the royal.petting.zoomoment.

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.

A list of risk factors at petting zoos and animal contact events at fairs can be found in: Erdozain G, Kukanich K, Chapman B, Powell D. 2012. Observation of public health risk behaviours, risk communication and hand hygiene at Kansas and Missouri petting zoos – 2010-2011. Zoonoses Public Health. 2012 Jul 30. doi: 10.1111/j.1863-2378.2012.01531.x. [Epub ahead of print]