Gonzalo Erdozain: TV doctors are not real doctors; don’t know jack about risks involved with petting zoos

Unfortunately, TV doctors are often idolized and imitated. Seeing Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey from Grey’s Anatomy) take her almost two-year-old daughter to a petting zoo demonstrates there is a long way to go reducing zoonotic diseases transmission and prevention awareness at petting zoos.

Children under the age of five are considered a high-risk group, add a pacifier, petting a baby goat, and a rabbit, and there is a high-risk situation for zoonotic disease transmission. Baby ruminants and poultry intermittently excrete substantial numbers of germs, which is why it is not recommended to have these young animals at petting zoos. Pacifier, bottles, or any items that will end up in the visitor’s mouth are all conduits for the fecal-oral route of exposure to pathogens. Keep children under five on your arms at all times, prevent strollers and baby items from entering the human-animal contact areas, and if you pet an animal, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water afterwards.

Petting zoo-related outbreaks have been recorded worldwide; an updated table is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/petting-zoos-outbreaks.