Risk behaviors for disease transmission among petting zoo attendees

Marcy McMillian, John R. Dunn, James E. Keen, Karen L. Brady, Timothy F. Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Objective - To evaluate risk behaviors for transmission of zoonotic diseases at petting zoos during a period without a recognized disease outbreak. Design - Observational survey with environmental microbiologic sampling. Sample Population - 6 petting zoos in Tennessee. Procedures - Attendees were observed for animal and environmental contact, eating or drinking, hand-to-face contact, and use of a hand sanltizer. Hands were examined via bacteriologic culture on some attendees. Environmental samples were collected at 3 petting zoos. Results - 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 sanltizer; 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 environmental samples. Conclusions and Clinical Relevance - 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1036-1038
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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