Enhancing Biosecurity at Fairs and Shows

Photograph is copyright Luc Asbury and is used under Creative Commons licensing.


This webinar was presented by Scott Cotton, University of Wyoming Area Educator and EDEN Chair-elect, and Curt Emanuel, Purdue Extension Educator and Boone County Extension Director. Cotton has been with Extension since 1993 and involved in disasters since 1972. His emergency/disaster roles have ranged from medical technician and firefighter to ICS/NIMS instructor and disaster exercise facilitator.  Emanuel is a former professional horse trainer. Since joining Purdue Extension in 1990, he has been involved in emergency and disaster planning at the local and state levels.

“Biosecurity at fairs and shows really begins well before the events. Animals should be vaccinated and receive health checks on a regular schedule. Their owners should be aware of disease risks and know how to care for the animals if they become ill or injured,”  says Cotton. “Fairs are very public events and generate a good bit of interaction between people and animals. It is vital to their good health that biosecurity measures are practiced before, during and after these events.”

Emanuel notes that the potential for spreading disease at fairs and shows depends on those practices. “Exposing healthy animals and people to sick animals can lead to a disaster far wider than the local event. All animals should be identified and their owners should present documentation of the animals’ health checks when they arrive for inspection prior to the event. There should be an established protocol for the inspections as well as a procedure for housing and handling the animals during the event. In addition, there should be an animal biosecurity team on hand to take action if there are causes for concern.”

Susan Kerr is a Washington State University Extension Livestock and Dairy Specialist. She moderated the session. “Many types of disease issues can arise at fairs and shows. Many of these problems can be prevented if proper biosecurity measures are established and enforced. Scott Cotton and Curt Emanuel will help us be more aware of the risks associated with animal diseases in public venues and show us how we can help reduce those risks.”

This recording is available and is brought to you by the Extension Disaster Education Network, an eXtension Community of Practice

Zoonotic Disease and Agriculture

Cows in Field

(Source: Penn State Ag Safety and Health)

Use the following format to cite this article:

Zoonotic disease and agriculture. (2013). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/67489/zoonotic-disease-and-agriculture.


Zoonotic diseases, or zoonoses, are diseases that can be transmitted from insects or vertebrate animals to humans. Zoonoses are caused by bacteria, protozoa, fungi, viruses, or parasites, which are often part of an animal’s natural flora but cause disease in humans. Infections can result from direct contact with animals or their products such as manure or placenta. Direct transmission can also occur through consumption of animal products (e.g., raw meat, raw milk, etc.) or through an animal bite. Humans can also become indirectly infected by contact with contaminated soil, food (e.g., produce), or water. Farmers, ranchers, veterinarians, slaughterhouse workers, and other agricultural workers have a higher risk of contracting zoonoses because of their close contact with animals.

Good personal hygiene is a primary line of defense against the transmission of zoonoses (e.g., influenza). For example, if your hands have been contaminated with bacteria, and you do not wash your hands, you could introduce the bacteria into your body when eating or rubbing your eyes. Protect yourself from most zoonotic diseases by practicing good hygiene after handling animals or their waste by thoroughly washing your hands with soap and running water for 20 seconds and use a paper towel to dry your hands.

In addition to proper hand washing, the following recommendations can further reduce your risk for zoonoses:

Personal protective equipment: Use appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g., waterproof apron, rubber gloves, face shields, etc.) when completing high-risk activities (e.g., handling a placenta after birth).

Work clothes – Have designated work clothes and boots that you use specifically for farm and ranch jobs, and regularly wash these clothes.

Work space – Disinfect and maintain a clean work space and environment.

Wound care – If you have a cut or abrasion, properly clean and cover the area with a waterproof bandage to reduce contaminants from entering your body through the wound. Wear gloves over bandaged wounds on the hands. Do not work with animals if your wound cannot be completely covered or is actively bleeding.  

Disposal of medical waste – When completing herd health responsibilities (e.g., handling blood samples), properly label and dispose of waste (e.g., syringes) rather than using your domestic waste disposal. Check state guidelines for specific disposal requirements.

Monitor herd health – Complete recommended immunizations and monitor all animals on your farm or ranch for disease and stress. Isolate and treat sick animals.  

Rodent reduction – Control or eliminate rat and mouse populations, which can carry and transmit disease.

Visitor education – Inform visitors about the importance of good hygiene practices on your farm or ranch. Provide hand washing facilities (running water, soap, and paper towels are preferred over hand sanitizer). Use signage to encourage visitors to practice good hand hygiene particularly after visiting with animals.   

Food safety issues – Have designated eating areas on the farm away from animals. Properly cook meat, avoid cross contamination (contamination between foods), and do not consume raw meat and milk.


Click HERE to be directed to the publication titled Disease from Select Zoonotic Agents to learn more about the routes of transmission, type of diseases, animal carriers, incubation period, and clinical signs.


Use the following format to cite this article:

Zoonotic disease and agriculture. (2013). Farm and Ranch eXtension in Safety and Health (FReSH) Community of Practice. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/pages/67489/zoonotic-disease-and-agriculture.




Disease from select zoonotic agents. (2005) Iowa State University. The Center for Food Security & Public Health. Retrieved from http://www.cfsph.iastate.edu/Zoonoses/assets/English/DiseaseFromSelectZoonoticAgentsWallChartWebVersion.pdf.

Harshman, W., Yoder, A., Hilton, J., & Murphy, D. (2013) Animal, wildlife, and insect related hazards. HOSTA Task Sheet 3.14. The Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved from http://www.extension.org/sites/default/files/NSTMOP%20Task%20Sheets%20Se….

Murdoch, B. (2007) Zoonoses – animal diseases that may also affect humans. Department of Primary Industries. Victoria, Australia. Retrieved from http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/agriculture/pests-diseases-and-weeds/anima….


Reviewed and Summarized by:
Glen Blahey, Canadian Agricultural Safety Association GBlahey@casa.acsa.ca

Lynn Z. Blevins, University of Vermont lblevins@uvm.edu
Linda M. Fetzer, Pennsylvania State University – lmf8@psu.edu
Dennis J. Murphy, Pennsylvania State University (has since retired)
Aaron M. Yoder, University of Nebraska Medical Center – aaron.yoder@unmc.edu