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On The Farm

Why You Need to Wash Your Hands Around Animals

Two young boys are holding yellow baby chicks at a farm education event by NC State University. Play Video

There’s a whole other world of life, called the microbiome, made up of teeny tiny microorganisms that exist on and in every living thing. The human microbiome includes trillions of these little life forms that are essential to our well being, often serving as a shield against germs or helping to convert food into energy.

Animals have their own unique collections of microscopic critters. Every time you touch a cow or a pig at the local fair, or even pet your dog or cat, you’re inviting their microorganisms to hitch a ride (and your body may not react the same way).

A young woman is holding a goat for families to see at a farm animals event.
Remember to always wash your hands after interacting with an animal. Photo by Roger Winstead, NC State University.

If you don’t wash your hands (thoroughly) before eating or wiping your nose, for example, you could make yourself quite sick. But don’t worry, you can still hug Fido and pet that adorable baby goat, you just need to practice good hand hygiene.

Helpful Handwashing Tips

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s handwashing recommendations, keeping your hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others.

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