Risk Analysis to Examine Potential Zoonotic Disease Transmission in ‘Petting Zoo’ Exhibits
Zoos and aquariums often have exhibits which encourage visitor contact and interaction with various animal species. These exhibits are very popular with our visitors but present challenges for the institution. We must balance safety for visitors and the animals, while providing a fun and educational experience. Of utmost concern is the risk of zoonotic disease transmission in these interactive settings.
How can an institution systematically evaluate the risk that these exhibits may pose to visitors? Risk analysis is a tool that can be used to assist institutional decision-makers to understand both the likelihood of occurrence and the consequences of an adverse event, such as transmission of a zoonotic pathogen. This presentation will review the basic elements of risk analysis, focusing on the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) qualitative model. A risk analysis will be presented, which examines risk of visitors contracting an enteric pathogen in a ‘petting zoo’ setting. By taking this organized, documented approach, institutions can assess their current practices and identify management and educational strategies that can decrease the likelihood of zoonotic disease transmission.