Animal contact - Reducing the risk of illness

Diseases transmitted from animals to people are called zoonotic diseases. Diseases transmitted from sick people to animals are called anthroponotic diseases. While the transmission of diseases can work both ways (that is, animals to humans and humans to animals), the Animal Contact Guidelines (PDF 2641KB) focus on human health and how people can reduce their risk of illness from contact with animals.

Animal Contact Guidelines

The Animal Contact Guidelines (PDF 2641KB) are for animal handlers and exhibitors who exhibit or display animals at an event or premises, either permanent, mobile or temporary. The Guidelines include information on reducing the risk of zoonotic disease from animals in pet shops, childcare services, schools and health care facilities.

The measures outlined in these guidelines are considered best practice. They aim to enhance standards in public health by:

  • reducing the risk of zoonotic disease transmission in children and adults
  • addressing work health and safety obligations
  • meeting duty of care

The Guidelines also aim to set minimum standards to assist local environmental health officers administer the South Australian Public Health Act 2011 and to apply to any event or premises where animals are handled, exhibited or displayed (excluding commercial animal farming and processing).

The Introduction and Essential Considerations sections of the Guidelines provide core advice and apply to anyone who handles, exhibits, displays, sells, hosts, or houses animals in a public setting. Additional information is provided in the Guidelines for:

  • animal exhibitors
  • pet shops
  • childcare services and schools
  • health care facilities.


These practical tools aim to reinforce behaviours that assist to reduce the risk of zoonotic disease, from animal contact, in a public setting and include: