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Health official: Petting zoos, fair agriculture exhibits can be breeding grounds for disease

In this Friday, Aug. 7, 2015 photo, photo Dexter Bellee, 9, of Austin, Texas, visits a petting zoo at Allenholm Farm apple orchard, in South Hero, Vt. As more farms open up to visitors for apple picking, hay rides and corn mazes, extension officials are urging the owners to take steps so their facilities and equipment are safe to help prevent accidents. (AP Photo/Lisa Rathke)

PHOENIX — With the Arizona State Fair about to start and people bringing their kids to petting zoos, state health officials are concerned that parents need to take steps to make sure that their kids and the animals don’t get sick.

The state fairgrounds are about to come alive as the Arizona State Fair starts on October 16th.

“The fair is more than ferris wheels and fried Twinkies,” said Arizona Department of Agriculture spokesman Mark Killian. “There’s nothing better than holding a pig. You can’t live life without holding a pig.”

Killian said that if you’re going to do that, be careful.

“There are organisms that humans have that can pass to animals and vice versa. If you’ve got kids with colds, I’m not so sure that you want those kids hugging the pigs.”

And Killian said that you should make sure that you use good hygiene habits to make sure that the animals don’t make you sick.

“For example, I’m a farmer and rancher,” said Killian. “Before I work with my animals, I wash my hands. When I get through working with animals, I wash my hands and clean my boots. It’s just normal.”

Killian said that if you take your kids to a petting zoo for a birthday party, make sure it’s up to standard.

“You need to make sure that they are registered with the United States Department of Agriculture, and that they follow the sanitary requirements of the USDA.”

That includes that they have a cleaning station for the kids, much like the state fair will have at agriculture exhibits when it opens later this month.