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Wyoming Department of Health [WDH} officials are urging people to take steps to protect themselves from bringing home illnesses from summer events featuring animals.

That includes such things as rodeos, fairs and petting zoos.

Courtney Smith of the WDH says diseases such as salmonella, E. Coli and campylobacter, among others, can be picked. up from contact with animals.

''Many of the germs come from feces and only a tiny amount is required to make you ill,” Smith stated. “Even though your hands or clothes may not look dirty, you can still have enough germs on them to cause illness.”

The release from the department goes on to say:

Symptoms from these illnesses typically include stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea. Serious illnesses requiring hospitalization sometimes occur; children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

Smith advises people to take precautions to avoid becoming ill, including always washing hands:

  • After touching animals or their living areas
  • After leaving the animal area
  • After taking off dirty clothes or shoes
  • After going to the bathroom
  • Before preparing foods, eating or drinking

To wash hands correctly, people should:

  • Wet hands with clean, running water
  • Apply soap
  • Rub hands to create a lather and scrub well including the backs of the hands, between the fingers and under fingernails
  • Wash for at least 20 seconds
  • Rinse hands
  • Dry hands using a clean paper towel or air dry them. Do not dry hands on clothing

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce germs. If soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol can be substituted.