More than 200 signs will be posted at this year's
reminding fairgoers to wash their hands after visiting the petting zoo, Commissioner Steve Troxler said. Among
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
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."