Zoonotic diseases are those that can be transmitted from animals to people. We’ve heard about several of these in the headlines – such as Bird Flu, West Nile Virus, SARS, and anthrax.

Other common zoonotic pathogens include E. coli, Salmonella, rabies, cryptosporidium, roundworms and ringworm.

South Dakota State University’s Russ Daly says people who work around livestock need to take precautions so they don’t get sick from some of these pathogens. And, he emphasizes that when city kids or grandkids come to visit the farm (or pet the animals at a livestock show or petting zoo), their immune systems are usually not prepared for those particular pathogens, so special precautions should be taken when they are around livestock as well.

Steps you can take to decrease exposure to zoonotic disease risks include:

1. When possible, stay away from sick calves, stressed animals (calving cows), and manure contamination.

2. Keep barn clothes and boots out of the house and away from children.

3. Disinfect barn interiors and animal equipment.

4. Be diligent about hand washing after being around livestock.

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