Department of Health | News | Departments of Health & Agriculture Encourage Residents to Stay Healthy When Interacting With Farm Animals This Spring – NJ.gov

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TRENTON – As the weather gets warmer and New Jersey residents encounter more opportunities to interact with farm animals such as goats and alpacas at local farms, fairs, petting zoos, and other animal exhibitions, the New Jersey Departments of Health and Agriculture are encouraging residents to take certain health and safety precautions.
While interacting with animals can be educational and fun, it is important to remember that animals can carry germs that cause illness in people, even if the animal appears healthy. All visitors should take a few basic precautions when interacting with animals. Children 5 years of age and younger, people with weakened immune systems, and adults over 65 years old are at higher risk of illness from germs carried by animals and should take extra precautions at animal exhibits.
“Some germs can be transmitted by touching or petting animals and then eating or touching your mouth,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Parents and caregivers should ensure that children and other family members who have had contact with farm animals wash their hands thoroughly and frequently. It’s also important for children to be supervised closely around animals for their own safety and to minimize unintentional hand-to-mouth contact.”
“We encourage everyone to visit our farms and 4-H fairs that host events for the public that may have livestock and other animals on display,” said New Jersey Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. “It’s essential to follow these important tips to stay safe as they enjoy these agricultural activities.”
Precautions everyone should take to stay healthy around farm animals:
Running water and soap are best, but if they are not available, you should use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and wash your hands with soap and running water as soon as you can.
Many educational farm and county fair opportunities are available throughout New Jersey this spring and summer.  The Departments of Health and Agriculture encourage residents to always be safe around farm animals.  Information on available activities can be found at https://www.state.nj.us/nj/about/garden/
Those who have traveled internationally, within the last five days should not visit with livestock, in order to prevent the unintentional spread of diseases to New Jersey farm animals.   
Additional Resources:
https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals.html 
https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals.html#tabs-1-3
https://nj4h.rutgers.edu/fairs/
https://www.nj.gov/agriculture/divisions/ah/news/biosecurity.html
http://www.nasphv.org/Documents/AnimalContactCompendium2017.pdf
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Shereef Elnahal, M.D., M.B.A.
Commissioner
P.O. Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625
 

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