The Wyoming Department of Health urges people to practice personal hygiene around water and animals to avoid certain illnesses often linked with summer fun.

“If not done safely, many warm weather activities can sometimes cause unpleasant stomach-related symptoms and occasionally serious illness,” Department epidemiologist Courtney Tillman said in a press release.

Diseases such as cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis and shigellosis are diarrheal illnesses caused by swallowing water from pools or outdoor sources contaminated with animal or human feces.

These illnesses, along with salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and E. coli-related illnesses, can also result from direct contact with animals or their feces during activities and events such as brandings or petting zoos.

Every spring, the Department sees new cases of salmonellosis linked to poultry, epidemiologist Matt Peterson said.

Most of these cases are children under 5 who have touched or held baby poultry in ranch supply stores or whose family has recently acquired baby poultry.

They are more likely to get sick with Salmonella because their immune systems are still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or other items with germs into their mouths.

“Do not let young children touch live poultry (including chicks and ducklings) or touch anything in the area where the birds live and roam,” Peterson said.

“Backyard poultry can have Salmonella germs in their poop and on their bodies even when they look healthy and clean," he said. "The germs spread easily to their cages, coops, hay, plants and soil in the areas they live and roam.”

Tillman said people should always wash their hands after coming into contact with animals or their habitats.

"If you can’t immediately access running water and soap, use hand sanitizer until you’re able to wash your hands," she said.

Water sources and animals may look clean, but can still be contaminated, Tillman said.

The Department offered these simple protection suggestions:

  • Stay out of the water if sick with diarrhea.
  • Shower before getting in the water. When chlorine mixes with dirt, sweat, pee and poop, there is less chlorine available to kill germs.
  • Take kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers every hour. Change diapers away from the water to keep germs from getting in.
  • Dry ears thoroughly with a towel after getting out of the water.
  • Boil or use a filter or solution designed to remove germs from streams, rivers and lakes before drinking.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after coming into contact with animals and their habitats, before preparing food and before eating and drinking.

Now here are actions to avoid:

  • Swallow swimming water and avoid getting water in the mouth.
  • Poop or pee in swimming water.
  • Sit or stand on jets at splash pads because they can rinse poop off butts.
  • Let children kiss animals or put objects in their mouths after touching animals.
  • Touch wild animals or their carcasses. If concerned about a wild animal or animal carcass, contact your local animal control office.

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