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Post Date:06/13/2019 11:31 AM

WOODSTOCK IL – With nice weather upon us, families have started enjoying outdoor events. Because summertime fun often involves the animal world, the McHenry County Department of Health (MCDH) reminds residents of the risk of picking up gastrointestinal illnesses such as salmonella, campylobacter, or E.coli from animals by petting or touching them.  These illnesses often cause diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal cramping and can lead to hospitalizations for the very young, elderly, or immune-compromised people.

Feeding pigs, riding ponies or watching calf roping at the county fair is educational and fun. Getting face-to-face with animals at petting zoos, fairs and festivals also increases the risk of getting sick.  According to Susan Karras, RN, Director of Nursing for MCDH, “During the spring and summer, more people, including children, interact with livestock and poultry.  This means we often see an increase in gastrointestinal cases associated with animals.”

Whether visiting a pet store or planning a trip to the petting zoo or county fair, careful hand washing and taking a few simple precautions reduces the risk of illnesses associated with animals:

Always wash your hands right after petting animals, even if you did not touch the animals.

Keep food and drink out of animal areas.

Don’t share your food with animals

Children younger than 5 years always need adult supervision in animal areas.

Never allow children to put their thumbs, fingers, or objects (for example: pacifiers) in their mouths when they’re around animals or in an animal area.

Do not take or use strollers, bottles, pacifiers, spill-proof cups, or toys into animal areas.

For more information about staying healthy around animal exhibits visit the CDC at


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