For many, visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational experience. Watching and interacting with farm animals helps people to learn about agriculture and how food is produced. Most people only get the chance to interact with live farm animals during farm visits or at petting zoos. For others, working with farm animals is part of their daily lives.
While interacting with farm animals, including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and poultry, has many benefits, it should be recognized that all animals naturally carry a range of organisms, some of which may be transmitted to humans and cause illness. Diseases that pass from animals to humans are called zoonoses and they can cause a range of illnesses from mild to serious.
Fortunately, however, zoonotic diseases are usually readily prevented by taking a few common sense precautions. The most important precaution is to avoid putting anything close to your mouth that has been in contact with farm animals. Washing your hands before eating is very important, as is washing your hands before smoking or biting your nails!
Injuries can also occur due to bites or kicks from farm animals – you should always be cautious around farm animals and be aware of your surroundings.
Children must always be supervised when around farm animals to avoid injury and illness. Make sure that they do not put dirt into their mouths or bite their nails; and help them to wash their hands well with soap after the visit.
If you keep or work with farm animals, it is important to schedule regular veterinary visits to keep your animals healthy and prevent infectious diseases. It is a good idea to check out the resources on this page to learn more about zoonotic diseases and how to prevent them. This will help you to protect the health of yourself, your family and any visitors that you might have!
For additional information about Petting Zoos and Farm Animals, as well as about the most common diseases that can be acquired from animals please use the links in the sidebar.
Information for Health Professionals