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For Immediate Release

July 14, 2014
Steve Merritt
Public Information Officer
Montana Department of Livestock

Enjoy Animals Safely This Fair Season

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Livestock are collaborating to prevent illnesses transmitted from animals to humans and make petting zoos and fairs fun and safe. We have also reached out and asked fair operators to help keep our community safe while visiting animals at the fair.

Exhibits such as petting zoos and fairs allow children of all ages to have the thrilling experience of coming face-to-face with animals. This interaction allows us to learn more about animals and helps to build an important human-animal bond.

“Sometimes, even healthy animals can carry organisms that make people sick,” said Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski.

Young children and persons who have weakened immune systems are at greatest risk for infection and complications from illnesses caused by Salmonella, E. coli, but also influenza, rabies and others.

“Animal agriculture is an important component of Montana’s lifestyle,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper, “We just need to remember a few simple prevention steps to keep humans and animals healthy so we can enjoy them all summer long."

  • Wash your hands after handling animals
  • Avoid touching your mouth after animal contact
  • Don’t bring food or drinks into animal area
  • Don’t bring strollers or pacifiers into animal area
  • Supervise small children
  • Stay away from animal exhibits when you are ill

Consult with your local health jurisdictions for guidance and questions. Together we can prevent illnesses and keep our children and communities healthy. We belief the benefits of animal companionship far outweigh the risk. Let’s keep it that way!