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Posted by Rod on April 27, 2001 at 14:38:20:
In Reply to: Re: Herps in the classroom posted by John Meltzer-RJ Reptiles on April 24, 2001 at 04:19:10:
I am the director of a small, regional nature center in West Texas. We do a lot of educational programs for school children, both on and off-site. All of our programs involve herps (primarily snakes). In fact, some of our most requested programs are about herps. We have never had a problem with any school that we deal with (in a 15 county region)over possible zoonoses carried by reptiles. Our programs are designed to be hands on and of course we take precautions to ensure animals are clean, healthy, etc. We also use anti-bacterial gel after each program, and we encourage the teachers to have students wash their hands. We never allow students to handle aquatic turtles. As they spend a lot of time in the water (where they also defecate), we think allowing students to touch them increases any risk of disease transmission. This institution has been conducting such programs for over 10 years and we have never had a problem with any patron or student getting ill after handling one of our animals. If ordinary, common sense precautions are taken (i.e. post-handling washing of hands) the risk of zoonosis tranmission is nil in my opinion.