Research – Petting zoos could potentially transmit highly virulent drug-resistant bacteria to visitors

Science Daily

New research presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands (13-16 April) shows that petting zoos can create a diverse reservoir of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria, which could lead to highly virulent drug-resistant pathogens being passed on to visitors.

The study is by Professor Shiri Navon-Venezia of Ariel University, Ariel, Israel and colleagues, and aimed to explore the prevalence, molecular epidemiology, and risk factors for animals in petting zoos becoming colonised by MDR bacteria. Petting zoos are a popular attraction around the world, allowing direct and indirect exposure of both children and adults to a diverse range of animal species. They are different from regular zoos because rather than visitors just looking at the animals, petting zoos are interactive with children visiting, holding and petting the animals.

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