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Animal Contact Guidelines

Exhibited animals allow us to get closer to nature. They provide a unique opportunity to learn, explore and appreciate the natural world. Having contact with animals is an experience that should be valued, respected and enjoyed.

While appreciating all the benefits animals can bring, it is important to know that animals carry germs that can cause illness in people. Simple health promoting behaviours, such as washing and drying hands after being in an animal contact area, can reduce the risk of illness, and assist in maintaining health and wellbeing.

Animal Contact Guidelines (2015)

Diseases transmitted from animals to people are called zoonotic diseases. To assist people to minimise the risk of zoonotic disease transmission, SA Health has developed the Animal Contact Guidelines–reducing the risk of illness associated with animal contact (2015).

The Guidelines are for animal handlers, animal exhibitors, pet shop retailers, staff, visitors and customers at an animal exhibit, event, premises or retail outlet.  The Guidelines also include information about the prevention of zoonotic disease from animals in childcare services, schools or health care facilities. 

The South Australian Public Health Act 2011 (the Act) and its Regulations aim to protect and promote the health of South Australians. Under the Act and in circumstances where public health is considered to be at risk, these Guidelines may be used by relevant health authorities to inform legal notices and directions. The measures outlined in the Guidelines are considered best practice and aim to protect public health by:

•             reducing the risk of transmission of disease from animals to people

•             addressing work health and safety obligations

•             meeting duty of care.

Washing and drying hands

When zoonotic disease occurs, it is commonly acquired via contaminated hands during contact with animals, their environments or their wastes.

Washing and drying hands is considered one of the most important measures to minimise the risk of most zoonotic diseases.

In environments where animals are present, and regardless of whether animals are touched, washing hands with soap (preferably liquid) and running water, and drying using a single use disposable paper towel (preferred option) or air dryer, is the best way to reduce the risk of illness.


SA Health has developed the following tools aimed at reinforcing behaviours that reduce risk from zoonotic disease from animals in a public setting.  

      --Wash your hands.

      --Wash your hands before eating and drinking

      --Hand Washing (with a directional arrow pointing left or right). 

      --Animal handlers, exhibitors and pet shop retailers can request these by emailing .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) 


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