Nov 3, 2021
Michigan agritourism surveyed about disease prevention practices

Michigan State University Extension is developing resources to help Michigan’s agritourism industry better protect itself and its guests from zoonotic diseases.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), zoonotic diseases are diseases caused by germs that spread between people and animals. Examples of zoonotic pathogens include salmonella, Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli, influenza viruses and others. These disease pathogens are quite common, but with proper prevention measures and hygiene, the risk of transmission is low.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that six out of every 10 known infectious diseases can be spread by animals. Furthermore, the CDC estimates that three quarters of new diseases in people originated in animals. This likely includes SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, according to the findings of John S. Mackenzie and David W. Smith in their article, “COVID-19: a novel zoonotic disease caused by coronavirus from China: what we know and what we don’t.”

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension has partnered with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to implement new programming designed to help prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases. This includes resource packets for animal exhibitions around the state, social media materials, and educational materials to educate youth in strategies they can use to help prevent the spread of zoonotic diseases.

In addition, MSU Extension is developing resources to help Michigan’s vibrant and growing agritourism industry better protect itself and its guests from zoonotic diseases.

In simple terms agricultural tourism, or agritourism, is any activity that brings the public to a farm or other agricultural operation. In Michigan this can include orchards and cider mills, corn mazes, petting farms, and much more. Many of these businesses include opportunities for guests to interact with animals and often sell food and drink. While these businesses are already working to protect guests by, for example, encouraging hand washing and offering hand sanitizer stations, MSU Extension and MDHHS are working to support these establishments by offering new resources and materials to help educate the public about the issue of zoonotic disease and working with these facilities to ensure that a proper health plan is in place.

MSU Extension is currently surveying agritourism businesses in the state of Michigan to better understand their needs. If you own or operate such a business, we ask that you please take the time to complete the short survey at the link below. No information identifying you or your business will be associated with your response, and all responses will be kept strictly confidential. You will also have the opportunity to sign up to receive resources from MSU Extension and MDHHS.

As we continue to cope with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is a good time to educate ourselves about zoonotic diseases and the best ways to prevent them from spreading. Please help MSU Extension and MDHHS by telling us what would help you and your business better protect both the public’s health and animal health in Michigan.

Click here to take the survey.

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