Local News

More Staff, Hand-Washing Stations In Place At State Fair Petting Zoo

Posted October 5, 2005

— North Carolina's Commissioner of Agriculture was on hand Wednesday morning at the state fair to talk about new guidelines in place to minimize the risk of visitors contracting illnesses from petting zoos.

More than 200 signs will be posted at this year's

state fair

reminding fairgoers to wash their hands after visiting the petting zoo, Commissioner Steve Troxler said. Among

other measures

in place are hand-washing stations, more barn staff and pens keeping animals and visitors separated.

"The single most important step in minimizing disease risk is to simply wash your hands," said veterinarian Dr. Mary Ann McBride.

The guidelines come after a

new law

went into effect Oct. 1 that gives the North Carolina Department of Agriculture more oversight of the vendors running petting zoos at public events.

More than 100 people were believed to have contracted E. coli at a petting zoo at last year's state fair, and several lawsuits are still pending against the vendor.

"We've had parents call us from across the state saying, 'We hope you're not going to do away with these petting zoos,'" Troxler said. "That's not our intention, but at the same time, we take this very, very seriously, and we're going to do what is reasonable to help the public."


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