FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2016
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
Keep the ice cream out of animal exhibits
Many Montanans will be enjoying summer fairs in the coming months. And, with that opportunity presents the chance to visit exhibits such as petting zoos that allow people of all ages the thrilling experience of coming face-to-face with animals.
But, those experiences do involve some health risks.
“Sometimes, even healthy animals can carry organisms that make people sick,” said Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski of the Department of Livestock (DOL).
Young children and persons who have weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for infection and complications from illnesses caused by Salmonella, E. coli, influenza, and others. “Livestock plays an integral part in the lives of Montanans, and we really want people to enjoy this experience, but in a safe way,” Szymanski said.
The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and the DOL ask that everyone do their part to prevent illnesses transmitted from animals to humans to help keep petting zoos and fairs safe. Since many of these organisms can be ingested, avoid eating or drinking around animals and always wash your hands after petting animals or touching surfaces in the animal barns.
“Keep food, drinks, strollers and pacifiers out of animal areas,” said DPHHS epidemiologist Dana Fejes. “Be sure to wash your hands after leaving the animals and before eating food.”
Fejes says to follow these few simple steps to keep humans and animals healthy:
· Wash your hands after handling animals
· Avoid touching your mouth after animal contact
· Don’t bring food or drinks into animal area
· Don’t bring strollers or pacifiers into animal area
· Supervise small children
· Stay away from animal exhibits when you are ill
Consult with your local health department for further guidance and questions or go to online to www.dphhs.mt.gov.
“Together we can prevent illnesses and keep our children and communities healthy,” Fejes said.