Zoonosis: <i>Where</i> are you at risk?
For many, the children’s farm is a perfect opportunity to be get to know animals. As this kind of educational opportunity is of highly valuable, the risk of zoonose infection should not keep visitors away. Being sensible about interacting with animals and following rules of good hygiene can drastically reduce the risk of infection.
First and foremost, hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water after contact with animals. This is especially important if food is to be eaten during the farm visit. It is also best not to eat among the animals.
Special caution is advised during lambing and calving time. As pathogens, such as those causing Q fever, can be found in the amniotic fluid and placenta, there should be no contact with newborn animals. This is good practice anyway, as these recent arrivals and their mothers should be left alone.
Another smart precaution is to wear rubber boots when visiting the children’s farm. Afterwards, the boots should be rinsed clean.
Several kinds of zoonoses can be contracted at a children’s farm. Some of these are skin conditions occurring in both animals and humans, such as ringworm (fungal infection) and scabies. Other pathogens can cause diarrhoea; young animals can have it as well, whereas older animals often carry the infection without being sick themselves. Examples of these pathogens are Cryptosporidium, Campylobacter, E.coli O157 and Salmonella; at lambing time, this includes the bacteria responsible for Q fever.
You’ll find more about zoonoses and pets in the next newsletter.