Fair and Petting Zoo Safety

A resource for fair and petty zoo legal cases and outbreak prevention, sponsored by Marler Clark

Research on Fair and Petting Zoo Outbreaks

The concept of zoonotic diseases is extremely well established and has a long history.  Case studies have clearly established a causal link between human enteric pathogenic illnesses and exposure to animals (Szita, 1980; Trevena, 1999).  The case studies have verified the transmission of enteric pathogens, such as Campylobacter jejuni, Cryptosporidium, and E. coli O157:H7 from animals to humans at common public venues such as petting zoos, open farms, and animal exhibits at state and county fairs.

There is a 2.45-fold increased risk factor for sporadic cases of verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 (VTEC) infection when humans have contact with animals in a farm environment.  One particularly strong paper establishing such a causal relationship was published by O’Brien et al in November-December of 2001.

Studies in the UK have shown the majority of outbreaks linked to farm animal contact are caused by VTEC and Cryptosporidium spp.  Both pathogens present a seasonal pattern with VTEC incidence highest in the late summer and Cryptosporidium incidence highest in the spring.  These studies have also found that places with improper hand-washing facilities are more likely to be the source of an outbreak.  In particular, providing only alcohol-based hand sanitizers is inadequate as Cryptosporidium parasites are not killed by them.