Pets & Animals
Germy Zone: Petting Zoos
These have been linked to major E. coli outbreaks in recent years. It's not hard to see why: Farm animals aren't choosy about where they lie down, and traces of feces from an animal's fur or saliva could easily get onto your child's hands -- and (yuck!) into her mouth.
Stay safe: Don't take a child younger than age 3 to a petting zoo (or, if you do, let her look but not touch). "No matter how much you warn her not to, a young child is likely to put her fingers in her mouth," says Andrew Nowalk, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Even older kids need reminders not to touch their mouths after petting -- and to use an alcohol-based hand gel when they're done.
Germy Zone: Pets
An affectionate lick from the family cat or dog isn't likely to make your child sick. But pets can transmit harmful bacteria from feces on their fur and paws.
Stay safe: If your child touches your pet before eating, make sure he washes his hands. Give your dog a bath at least once a week. And disinfect your home's entryway regularly, since that's where most germs from a pet's paws collect.