From North Carolina, U.S. to Brisbane, Australia, outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and other pathogens related to petting zoos or animal exhibits have been devastating to the families involved.
We wanted to provide a checklist for parents, and the teachers who book these events.
Two veterinarians from Kansas State University – Gonzalo Erdozain who completed his Masters of Public Heath with me and is about to graduate as a vet, and Kate KuKanich, an assistant prof with whom I’ve had the pleasure of writing several papers with – joined with me and my BFF Chapman (until we have a fight over hockey) and we tried to produce some guidelines.
The uniting factor was – we all have kids.
We’ve all seen microbiologically terrible practices, and read about them from around the world, and thought, maybe we should try and provide some guidance.
And now it’s been published.
Gonzalo did the bulk of the work for his MPH, but we all contributed our experiences.
For me, it was going to the Ekka in Brisbane, something like the Texas State Fair. The petting zoo was absolute madness, and after living in Brisbane and hanging out with micro-types who told me, don’t go to the Ekka, you’ll get sick, we didn’t go last year.
Fourty-nine people got sick from E. coli O157.
North Carolina has had repeated and terrible outbreaks.
As a father of five daughters, I’ve had many requests over 20 years to go on a school trip to see the animals. As a food safety type, I’ve been routinely concerned about best practices. The other parents may dislike microbiology, but I’m concerned with the health and safety of the children involved.
I am extremely proud of this paper, with the hope that maybe there will be fewer sick kids. I’m also extremely proud to be associated with my co-authors.
Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions
Zoonoses and Public Health DOI: 10.1111/zph.12117
Zoonoses and Public Health
G. Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman and D. Powell
Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. ‘It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the USA caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.
(And it was Amy that noticed the thing had been published; always ahead by a century.)