By Richard J. Arsenault in Food Poisoning Info
, Safety Tips
Posted on March 31st, 2010
Children love petting zoos. Interacting one on one with the sheep and goats seems to be particularly fun for youngsters. However, petting zoos can be a hidden source of various illnesses including E. coli.
There are several illnesses which can be passed from animals to people. Some of these are more commonly thought of as foodborne illnesses. Here is a list of some of the transferrable illnesses:
- Brucellosis – Farm Animals and Dogs – Brucellosis is an illness caused by a group of bacteria known as Brucella. Brucellosis causes fever, fatigue, headache, backache. An individual who has acquired Brucellosis may feel like they have the flu.
- Campylobacteriosis – Cats, Dogs, and Farm Animals – Campylobacteriosis is caused by the bacteria Campylobacter. Campylobacter symptoms include watery or bloody diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and stomach pain. In rare occasions, individuals who have contracted Campylobacteriosis will develop Guillain-Barré Syndrome, a condition in which nerves are destroyed.
- Escherichia coli – Cattle and Animals at Petting Zoos – E. coli is most often thought of as a food poisoning. However, E. coli, which can cause bloody diarrhea can also be found in relation to animals at petting zoos. E. coli is especially dangerous to young children. Young children who contract E. coli O157:H7 can develop a sometimes fatal condition known as Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS). Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) destroys a victims kidneys and is most common in small children.
- Salmonellosis – Reptiles, Farm Animals, Cats, and Birds – Like E. coli, Samonella is normally thought of in relation to foodborne illnesses. Samonellosis, which results from contact with Salmonella bacteria, can also be contracted when working with or handling reptiles, farm animals, cats, poultry, and other animals. Salmonella results in diarrhea, fever, and abdominal discomfort. Very young children have a higher risk of contracting Salmonellosis as do individuals with weakened immune systems.
- Yersiniosis – Cats, Dogs, and Farm Animals – Yersiniosis is contracted when an individual comes in contact with Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria. While adults rarely have symptoms other than abdominal pain as a result of Yersinia enterocolitica, children can suffer from fever and diarrhea.
This is not an exhaustive list of diseases which humans can contract from contact with different animals. Additional problems include Cryptosporidiosis and Giardia which are parasites as well as Hookworm, Roundworm, Hantavirus, Rabies, and Toxoplasmosis. Proper handling of animals and proper safety precautions must be taken to ensure that these diseases are not spread. Since young children are at greatest risk of suffering some or all of the above listed diseases, parents should be aware of the dangers associated with petting zoos housing contaminated animals. Children love pets and watching young children interact with animals for the first time is a wonderful sight. Hopefully, zoo managers are taking the necessary steps to make these encounters safe.
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