Objective—To assess the number of zoonotic disease
outbreaks associated with animal exhibits and
identify published recommendations for preventing
zoonotic disease transmission from animals to people
in exhibit settings.
Design—Literature review and survey of state public
health veterinarians and state epidemiologists.
Procedure—MEDLINE and agriculture databases
were searched from 1966 through 2000. Retrieved
references and additional resources provided by the
authors were reviewed. A survey was sent to state
public health veterinarians and state epidemiologists
to determine whether their states had written
recommendations or guidelines for controlling
zoonotic diseases in animal exhibition venues,
whether their states maintained a listing of animal
exhibitors in the state, and whether they had any
information on recent outbreaks involving animals in
Results—11 published outbreaks were identified.
These outbreaks occurred in a variety of settings
including petting zoos, farms, and a zoological park.
An additional episode involving exposure to a potentially
rabid bear required extensive public health
resources. A survey of state public health veterinarians
identified 16 additional unpublished outbreaks or
incidents. Most states did not have written recommendations
or guidelines for controlling zoonotic diseases
or any means to disseminate educational materials
to animal exhibitors.
Conclusions—Recent outbreaks of zoonotic diseases
associated with contact with animals in exhibition
venues highlight concerns for disease transmission
to public visitors. Only a handful of states have
written guidelines for preventing zoonotic disease
transmission in animal exhibition venues, and published
recommendations currently available focus on
preventing enteric diseases and largely do not
address other zoonotic diseases or prevention of bite
wounds. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;224:1105–1109)