Waushara County Health News

Proper handwashing after petting animals prevents disease


The Waushara County Fair is quickly approaching, with the fair will be held at the Waushara County Fairgrounds Aug. 15-18. Some of the things the County Fair is well-known for are its attractions, food, exhibits, and animals. There are buildings on the south and east end of the fairgrounds where animals are kept.

On the south end of the fairgrounds, there is a poultry building, a dairy building, and a sheep and swine building. There is also a livestock pavilion. On the east side of the fairgrounds, there is a race horse barn. All of these buildings are open to the public to see the animals. Sometimes, owners will allow people to interact with their animals, whether that be holding a rabbit or feeding a chicken. In order to stay healthy after visiting the animal buildings at the county fair this year, we should review some helpful tips.


The key to staying healthy after visiting animal buildings is to remember the One Health approach. The CDC states, “the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment.”  This is important as it relates to us getting sick. When people get sick, it is often due to the cleanliness of the world around us. In fact, according to the CDC, six out of every 10 infectious diseases in humans are spread from animals. Furthermore, there were about 100 outbreaks of illnesses related to animals in public settings like fairs or zoos. This is not to say that visiting the animal buildings at the fair is dangerous, just that we must take extra precautions to ensure the visit does not result in us getting sick.

Young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to getting sick from animals. If you are considering visiting the animal buildings at the fair, you should practice caution if you are a member of these groups. Even if you are not a member of these groups, you should still practice caution. The CDC states, “Even animals that look clean and healthy can carry harmful germs, and areas where animals live or roam can be contaminated – you don’t have to touch an animal to get sick.”

The most important way to help prevent getting sick after interacting with animals is to wash your hands. There are handwashing stations located outside of the animal buildings. Wash your hands immediately after leaving the building. If you do not wash your hands immediately you could touch your face or even rub your eyes. This may result in the transfer of bacteria and get you sick. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer can work as well but it is not as effective as proper hand washing.

Another way to protect against getting sick is by keeping food and drink away from animals. This is especially relevant to the Waushara County Fair, which has many booths where food and drink are available for purchase. You should not eat or drink near animals and should not bring food or drink into the animal buildings. You also should not feed animals any food that is not expressly given to you by their owner.


Finally, you should always supervise young children in the animal buildings. Strollers, pacifiers, and sippy cups should not enter the animal buildings. If you do bring these items into the animal buildings, they should be cleaned after you exit the building just like your hands. Otherwise you risk carrying the bacteria with you after you leave the building, which makes hand washing ineffective.

Parents or guardians should take extra precautions to ensure that their young child does not touch their face or put their hands in their mouths while in the animal buildings or before washing their hands.

Young children should refrain from reaching their hands or fingers into the animal’s cages or pens. Fingers can be easily mistaken by the animal for food. Parents or guardians should ensure that their child washes their hands immediately after leaving the animal building.