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    Kids and Petting Zoos

    Simple Steps Can Prevent Infections at Petting Zoos

    Playing With Animals Still OK

    None of this is to say that children should be kept from animals. There are a lot of benefits to be gained by kids interacting with animals, says Linda J. Lyons, MSW, LICSW, a therapist who uses animals when she works with troubled children -- such as decreased anxiety, increased confidence, and the chance to connect with another living being in a nonthreatening way.

    And thanks to our increasingly urban society, "a petting zoo may be the only place where kids are exposed to animals besides cats and dogs," she says.

    Jayarao agrees.

    "It would be a shame to see these small petting zoos disappear because of this outbreak," he says. Instead, he hopes that health departments will work with local petting zoos to help them develop safer practices.

    He also hopes that parents become informed about the risks and take some precautions to safeguard their kids.

    After all, he says, "A petting zoo is a great thing."

    Michele Bloomquist is a freelance writer based in Brush Prairie, Wash. She writes frequently about consumer health.

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