How to prevent getting sick after visiting animal exhibits, petting zoos

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SAN ANTONIO – Every year, people get sick after contact with animals.  

Lessons about animal care include cleanliness and safety, which is important not just for the animals, but for people who interact with them. 

Even animals that are healthy and well cared for can carry germs that can make you sick. 

"Some of the most common harmful germs people get from animals at exhibits are E. coli, cryptosporidium and salmonella. That's why it's really important to wash your hands," said Lisa Gill, of Consumer Reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says wash your hands immediately after touching animals or anything in the area where they live. Even if you don't touch the animals, it's still important to wash your hands because the pens can be contaminated.

If soap and running water is not available, use a hand sanitizer and then wash as soon as possible.

To limit exposure, don't eat or drink around animals, make sure children keep their hands out of their own mouths when they're around animals and avoid sitting on the ground. 

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