CDC would like to thank Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, for his careful review of these pages.
Interacting with farm animals is an important experience for children and adults. Being able to touch and watch the animals helps people to learn about agriculture and encourages the human-animal bond.
For many, interacting with live farm animals, including cattle; sheep; pigs; goats; llamas; alpacas; and poultry only happens at petting zoos or on farm visits. For others, working with farm animals has been a lifestyle and tradition. Some people even choose to keep farm animals, including pot-bellied pigs, as pets.
Despite the many benefits of interacting with farm animals, people should be aware that farm animals can carry germs that make people sick.
Diseases that pass from animals to humans are called zoonotic diseases. These diseases can cause a variety of illnesses, from minor skin rashes to serious infections.
By following some simple health tips you and your family are less likely to get sick from touching, petting, or owning farm animals.