Living Near Animals

Scripture: Genesis 13-14, 18-19

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review the story of Abraham and Lot.
  • Students will learn Abraham and Lot had flocks of sheep.
  • Students will learn the basics of keeping safe and healthy when living around animals.
  • Students will participate in an activity to help them examine possible ways of becoming ill from animals and develop strategies for avoiding illness.

Guiding Question: How can humans become ill from animals and how can we prevent illness if we have been around animals?

Materials: farm, petting zoo or other place where animals are housed

Procedure: Review the story of Abraham and Lot. Explain to students how Abraham and Lot had lived in a time and place where animals and people lived very near to each other. Remind students, that while animals can provide people with many things they need to survive, it is also possible to become very ill from being around animals if we aren’t careful. Take the students to a farm or other place where they can observe animals and people interacting. Have students give examples of the ways they believe people can become ill from being around animals. How do they think people can continue to work with animals and not become ill? Record student responses on an anchor chart or list. After students have generated all of the responses they can, have them suggest safety and health rules for working with animals. If the rules below are not thoroughly covered, give students hints to help them generate any remaining responses.

  • Animals should receive all suggested vaccines. Some diseases can be caught by people from an ill animal. Having animals properly vaccinated can prevent this transmission. (Ex. Rabies)
  • Isolate any ill or potentially ill animals from other animals and people until they can be seen by a trained vet.
  • Keep animals out of human living areas. Other than animals meant to be household pets, animals should be kept in areas separate from the areas where people eat and sleep. Diseases can be transmitted from animal feces or from bugs and parasites that live on animals. These can be transmitted directly from animals to any food or surface the animal touches. Keeping animals away from cooking, eating and sleeping areas will minimize the contamination from animals.
  • Properly dispose of animal waste products. Even household pets can carry disease in their waste products. All animal waste should be removed and disposed of carefully in sanitary ways.
  • Keep animal fur or hair clean of animal waste. Animals can become covered in their own waste. Some animals self-clean, but others need to be regularly bathed or hosed down to remove any waste on their bodies.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after handling animals or anything associated with animals. Not every germ on an animal will be as visible as animal waste products. It is important to thoroughly wash hands after any encounter with an animal.
  • When touching animals or things associated with animals, avoid touching your face and any open sores or wounds until your hands can be thoroughly washed. Most germs must actually be introduced into an opening in the human body in order to make someone ill. This is usually from a germ covered hand touching nose, mouth, eyes or open sores and wounds.

Additional Questions:

  • What disease can humans catch from animals?

Supplemental Activity: Have more advanced students research the most common disease passed to humans from animal or animal products contact. How common are these illnesses and what are the best ways to prevent them from spreading to people? Have students share their findings with others.