Animal Safety During the Fair

Few events draw as many people to Great Falls as the Montana State Fair. Animal exhibits and petting zoos are always popular attractions and provide a fun way for people to interact with and learn more about animals. Contact with animals, though, brings the potential for diseases like E. coli, cryptosporidiosis, and other flu-like or diarrheal illnesses.

Don’t avoid your favorite animal exhibits this year, but take some simple steps to protect yourself and your family from these diseases.

The disease-causing germs found in and around animal exhibits most often cause illness when they are swallowed. Once on your hands, these germs can be easily transferred to your mouth through eating, drinking, smoking, thumb-sucking, or other hand-to-mouth activities. These germs get on your hands through contact with animals or things in their environment like fencing, feed, and equipment.

The best way to avoid the illnesses associated with animals and animal exhibits? Wash your hands!

  • Wash your hands with soap and running water after exiting animal exhibits, even if you did not touch an animal.
  • Hand sanitizer is a good alternative if soap and water is not available.
  • Wash your hands before handing food or drinks or engaging in other hand-to-mouth activities (smoking, gum chewing, etc.).
  • Supervise children’s interactions with animals and their hand washing. Young children are more likely to get sick, as they tend to handle more things in animal exhibits and more likely than adults to put their hands in and around their mouths.

It is also recommended to cover any cuts or scrapes, so they are safe from germs and infection. Consider leaving strollers outside of animal areas and removing shoes as soon as you return home. This will avoid transferring germs to other locations.

A few simple steps can help make your Montana State Fair experience a happy and memorable one!


Sources: Cowlitz County (WA) Emergency Management, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention