Risk behaviors for disease transmission among petting zoo attendees
- Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2007 v.231 no.7 pp. 1036-1038
- disease transmission, zoonoses, zoos, zoo animals, epidemiological studies, bacteriology, eating habits, sanitizers, sanitation, hygiene, risk factors, disease prevention, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Tennessee
- To evaluate risk behaviors for transmission of zoonotic diseases at petting zoos during a period without a recognized disease outbreak. Observational survey with environmental microbiologic sampling. 6 petting zoos in Tennessee. Attendees were observed for animal and environmental contact, eating or drinking, hand-to-face contact, and use of a hand sanitizer. Hands were examined via bacteriologic culture on some attendees. Environmental samples were collected at three petting zoos. 991 attendees were observed; of these, 74% had direct contact with animals, 87% had contact with potentially contaminated surfaces in animal contact areas, 49% had hand-to-face contact, and 22% ate or drank in animal contact areas. Thirty-eight percent used hand sanitizer; children had better compliance than adults. Results of bacteriologic cultures of hands were negative for Salmonella spp and Escherichia coli O157; Salmonella spp were isolated from 63% and E coli O157 from 6% of the environmental samples. High risk behaviors were common among petting zoo visitors, and disease prevention guidelines were inconsistently followed. This is an example of the importance of one-medicine, one-health initiatives in protecting the public health. Veterinarians, venue operators, and public health authorities must work together on targeted education to improve implementation of existing disease prevention guidelines.