Keep People Healthy at Fairs, Shows, and Ag-Tourism Venues

Sample poster from CDC website
This post comes a bit late into fair season, and I will repost it again next year before the summer starts. Fairs, petting zoos, livestock shows, expos, and other agricultural events are common throughout the Midwest. These venues create the potential for visitor exposure to infectious diseases, rabies, injuries, and other health problems among visitors.  Based on past incidents, children are at higher risk based on their physiology and developmentally-related characteristics. Kids also have greater exposure because of their likely contact with animals in these settings and their eating and other habits that connect little hands with little mouths.

This is by NO MEANS a new issue.  Yet, as I visit shows, fairs, and farms, I am surprised to still see lots of high-risk exposures, often combined with barriers to accessing adequate hygiene facilities and supplies. These same exposures can also create potential health threats farm visitors and workers.  

Thankfully, there is GREAT, research-based information available from highly credible sources including CDC and the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians. Here are some curated points of interest that I hope you will find useful.

1.  CDC's Stay Healthy at Animal Exhibits website - contains bulleted and practical information from the public health/vet communities.

2.  Key points for those who manage or design these facilities (taken directly from CDC website):

If You Manage an Animal Exhibit Facility Design
  • Design the exhibit so that animal areas are separate from areas where people may eat food.
  • Use signs to state where the animal and food areas are located.
  • Install hand washing stations at the exit of the animal exhibit. Make sure that some of the hand washing stations are low enough for children to reach.
  • Use plain language and pictures to inform visitors on ways to keep safe and healthy when visiting animal exhibits.


  • Encourage visitors to wash their hands after visiting and/or handling animals.
  • Be aware that healthy animals can carry germs that might make visitors sick.
  • Train staff and educate visitors about preventing disease transmission between humans and animals.
  • Use a variety of methods to provide information to the public. For example, use brochures, signs, and verbal instructions. See an example visitor handout

3.  Comprehensive journal article - publicly available from American Veterinary Medical Association -- Citation in APA format: Williams, C.J., Scheftel, J.M., Elchos, B.L., Hopkins, S.G., & Levine, J.F. (2013). Compendium of Measures to Prevent Disease Associated with Animals in Public Settings, 2013. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 243(9), 1270-1288.

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