As agricultural and animal-handling activities pick up around the province, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is encouraging all Albertans to take precautions – and make them part of their routines – to protect from diseases (such as E. coli, salmonella and campylobacter) that can easily be transmitted from animals to humans.
Wash hands, thoroughly and often:
To reduce risk of transmission of disease from animals to humans (which is most often spread through animal feces), be sure you and your family always wash your hands:
- After touching animals (whether outdoors, at home, at petting zoos, agricultural fairs, farmers markets or pet stores).
- Before and after eating, preparing food, switching tasks, taking a break, or using the washroom.
- After working with soil.
- After working with animals or animal equipment.
- After removing protective gear and gloves.
If eyes are splashed with animal fluids, rinse eyes immediately and thoroughly.
Handle unprocessed animal products wisely:
Unprocessed animal products – such as eggs, wool and manure – may also pose risk of illness.
If handling these unprocessed products, always:
- Wash hands thoroughly.
- Wash eggs before consumption.
- Follow routine, safe food-handling and preparation practices with unprocessed animal products, just as you would with any other food products.
Wear the gear:
Protective gear is generally not “all-purpose.” When working outdoors, with animals or in agriculture, wearing the right gear and using it properly can greatly reduce your risk of illness.
- When working with animals, always wear sturdy, steel-toed footwear.
- Good-fitting light leather gloves are also useful for tasks that do not involve chemicals or other hazardous materials, as they protect your hands from cuts and scratches.
- Remove and store all work clothes, dirty boots, gloves and other gear outside of the house.
- Wash hands after removing gear and gloves.
- Always wash work gear (including any gear contaminated with soil or manure) in a separate load, using hot water and bleach.
If you develop health concerns after being exposed to animals and/or unprocessed animal products, and/or work in agriculture, visit your family doctor and be sure to mention the animal and/or agriculture exposures.
Health Link Alberta is also available, 24/7, at 1.866.408.5465 (LINK).
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.