May 17, 2017


The onset of warmer weather signals more interaction between people and animals on farms, at agricultural fairs and other exhibitions – and also increases the potential spread of disease from animals to people.


There are typically several hundred outbreaks of animal-to-human disease across the country every year.


And with an outbreak of E. coli last spring at a Connecticut goat farm that sickened more than 50 people who had attended weekend open houses, the Department of Agriculture reminds anyone showing livestock or visiting a livestock exhibition to take necessary precautions. 


“With so much of today’s population being far removed from the farm, it is critical that farms encourage visits from their neighbors and the community at large to learn about how agriculture is done and why it is so important to Connecticut’s future,” Agriculture Commissioner Steven K. Reviczky said. “But it is just as important that farms understand the risks of holding a public event and the potential impact it could have on their operation if a disease outbreak occurs.”


Everyone involved in showing and handling farm animals in a public setting must be constantly vigilant about taking steps to prevent any potential incident of disease being spread.


Visitors must be made aware that all animals, including pets, can carry a variety of diseases that may be transmitted to humans.


Livestock can carry and shed disease organisms at any time, but often show few or no signs.


The Dept. of Agriculture’s goal is to ensure farm animals being exhibited are treated well and have received the proper veterinary care and day-to-day handling practices that will reduce that potential.

Much of the risk to people can be mitigated by following these simple safe-hygiene practices around animals:


·     Exhibition organizers should provide hand-washing stations equipped with soap and warm water, and encourage visitors to use them after handling farm animals.  Stations should be clearly marked, convenient to use and maintained so as to not contribute to the risk.


· Visitors should be discouraged from eating food while in the company of farm animals or in animal-housing areas.

· Parents should supervise their children when they are in contact with farm animals and ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly afterwards.  

· Anyone who sells animals should educate their customers on safe handling and proper hygiene practices, along with proper care and feeding of the animal.

· Those who purchase animals at an exhibition, farm or sale should  be prepared prior to receiving the animals to provide a clean, dry and secure place for animal housing outside the home appropriate for the type of animal.

· Keep animal food, feeding bottles, dishes and other equipment away from household food, utensils, and food-preparation areas and store them in a dedicated area outside the daily living area and away from young children. The animals, feeding bottles and other equipment should not be kept in the home.

· Thoroughly wash animal feeding equipment such as utensils, bottles and nipples prior to disinfecting. Organic matter on surfaces can reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants. Follow label directions when using any disinfectant.

· Wear dedicated clothing such as gloves, coveralls and boots while handling and working around animals.  After use, launder the clothes in hot water and dry on the highest heat setting.  Boots should be cleaned of organic matter and disinfected after use. Leave boots outside of the home.

Connecticut law also mandates standards regarding the control of rabies in a public setting involving the exhibition of animals: 


· No animal for which there is a licensed rabies vaccine may be in a public setting without being currently vaccinated for rabies.  With respect to livestock species, available rabies vaccines are licensed for use in only cattle, sheep and horses but not licensed for use in other species including goats, swine and camelids.  Consult your veterinarian for rabies vaccination recommendations.

· For animals not currently vaccinated, written records must kept by the owner, keeper, or handler of any animal that is present in a public setting in a controlled situation. The records must include contact information for all people having direct physical contact with the animal, including the visitors’ names, addresses and telephone numbers.

· Any animal not currently vaccinated for rabies that is present in a public setting in an uncontrolled situation shall be separated from the public by sufficient means to avoid direct contact between people and animals.

· Barriers such as a double fence, plexiglas, or other device to avoid direct contact between people and animals or a conspicuous sign must be posted near  the animal enclosure stating:  CONNECTICUT RABIES ADVISORY NOTICE – DO NOT FEED OR TOUCH THE ANIMALS.”

·         All poultry being exhibited at agricultural fairs must be identified and test negative for Salmonella pullorum within 12 months of the show date. Poultry must also be certified as having originated from flocks free of avian influenza, or be tested for the virus within 30 days of entry at the fair.

· All cages, crates and vehicles used for housing and transporting poultry must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each show. Doves, pigeons and waterfowl are exempt from testing requirements, but must be identified by leg bands or wing tags.

       Further information is available at: