2012-06-19


Free Handwashing Signs Help Keep Petting Zoos Safe

Washing Hands After Visiting Exhibits Keeps Germs From Spreading

PITTSBURGH – Summer fairs and festivals can get free handwashing signs from the Allegheny County Health Department for their petting zoos and farm animal exhibits.

“These attractions are a tradition at many community events held every summer and can be a lot of fun and educational, but children and adults alike should always remember to wash their hands after visiting such exhibits,” said Acting Health Director Dr. Ronald E. Voorhees.

The risk of contracting diseases that animals can sometimes carry, such as E. coli, Salmonella and a number of other infections, is significantly reduced by the simple act of handwashing.

Events with petting zoos can obtain the free handwashing signs by calling the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD or by downloading them from the World Wide Web Icon Health Department’s website.

Health officials suggest these tips on how to enjoy petting zoos without getting sick:

  • Don’t kiss the animals.  Limit your contact with them and the surroundings, such as fencing, stalls and gates, because manure may be present on their body and in their environment.
  • Supervise young children and make sure they keep their hands out of their mouths.
  •  Don’t take food or drink into the animal area.
  • Wash your hands as soon as you exit the animal area, and help young children wash their hands properly.  Washing with soap and warm water is best; use antibacterial towelettes or lotion if handwashing facilities are not available.
  • Clean your shoes when you return home and after doing so wash your hands.
  • Call your doctor if you or your children get sick with stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea within a week of visiting a petting zoo.  Tell the doctor you were around farm animals.

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