Livestock fairs and petting zoos are popular family destinations this time of year. But when animals and people get together, some disease risks spike.
This year, for the second year in a row, swine flu-infected pigs were found by Michigan state health officials at the Fowlerville Family Fair about 65 miles north of Detroit, reports WXYZ Detroit. Last year two fair attendants tested positive for flu after contacting swine flu-contaminated pigs, state health officials said. So far this year, no human infections have been reported among fairgoers.
Earlier this summer, authorities at the San Diego County Fair closed the petting zoo and all other animal exhibits to the public after a 2-year-old boy died, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was one of four children suspected of contracting E. coli after visiting a livestock display.
When humans contract swine flu, the symptoms resemble other flu infections, according to Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD, an emergency medicine doctor. He says symptoms may include:
Symptoms of E. coli depend on the strain of the virus. Most strains are harmless, while some prove deadly. Dangerous E. coli strains damage the intestinal lining, says Dr. Davis, who adds that symptoms may include:
In its most deadly form, Dr. Davis says, E.coli can lead to kidney failure. Elderly adults and children under 5 are most susceptible.
Recent cases highlight the need to practice health safety to protect yourself from the spread of disease during animal encounters. Diseases from animals may include ringworm, salmonella, rabies, and many others.
Good hygiene is important to stopping the spread of animal-to-human diseases. This means washing hands after touching livestock or other animals, and making sure young children do the same.