INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana State Fair gives kids a chance to get up-close to all kinds of animals – but those animals can also carry all sorts of viruses and bacteria, according to health officials.
Doctors were reminding fairgoers on Friday to wash or sanitize their hands after touching any livestock, especially before eating.
Riley Hospital for Children Pediatrician Dr. Michael McKenna said the fair typically does a good job of keeping sick animals away from humans.
"The things I would be more concerned about are if you are a child that has allergies, or maybe you didn't know your child was allergic to a certain kind of animal," McKenna said. "That, I think, would be much more likely to be happening. Or, for children who have asthma, things like animal dander and just being around animal fur can exacerbate those things."
Also of concern are shigellosis, also known as bacillary dysentery, and hand, foot and mouth disease – both of which are still spreading in Central Indiana from human-to-human contact.
"There is the shigella outbreak here in the city and we've been seeing some hand, foot, mouth disease. That's not really passed by animals," McKenna said. "But, again, you're in a place where there's a lot of different people together. So honestly I think the people around you are going to be more concerning than the animals because nobody checks the people every day to make sure they're healthy. So things like the Shigella outbreak and hand, foot, mouth disease, those are the things I'd be more worried about than anything you could get from an animal."
And McKenna said it's not just our hands we need to be concerned about. He advised fairgoers to check their shoes after walking through barns to make sure you don't transfer any fecal matter that can carry diseases like E. coli.