Diarrhea and the Petting Zoo

Now that it is “Summer Time”, and everyone is out of school (driving their respective parents crazy (or at least in my home)), there will be more frequent trips to the Zoo and to Pools. This effort to save some parental sanity may inadvertently lead to important environmental considerations.

Just like you would consider travel to Sub-Saharan Africa as a potential risk for malaria, you should consider zoos (particularly petting zoos) and pools as important risk factors as well.

1. Petting Zoos, Farmers Markets and Fairs, and Swimming Pools (especially kiddie swimming pools) are known sources of enteropathogens that can cause diarrhea (sometimes bloody).
⇒ Salmonella (turtles, baby chicks)
⇒ E. Coli (newborn calves)
⇒ Cryptosporidium (farm animals and swimming pools – it is chlorine resistant)

2. Consider these on your DDx of vomiting/diarrhea.

3. Ask about these possible exposure sites along with Travel History and Nontraditional Pets.

Sean M. Fox
Sean M. Fox

I enjoy taking care of patients and I finding it endlessly rewarding to help train others to do the same. I trained at the Combined Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics residency program at University of Maryland, where I had the tremendous fortune of learning from world renowned educators and clinicians. Now I have the unbelievable honor of working with an unbelievably gifted group of practitioners at Carolinas Medical Center. I strive every day to inspire my residents as much as they inspire me.

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