HOUSTON Petting zoo animals may be cute and cuddly, but in rare instances the animals on exhibit can also make you sick.

The animals can spread germs that are harmful to humans, like salmonella and e-coli.

Salmonella will make you sick and give you bad diarrhea, but you generally will recover from that quickly, said Dr. Debra Cutler, a pediatrician at the Kelsey-Seybold Clinic. Some of the E. coli bacteria are not so kind, and you can end up in the hospital.

Cutler said it s best to wash your hands once you ve left the animal are with good old fashioned soap and water followed by hand sanitizer. She adds the benefits of children learning to interact with animals far outweigh the risks.

Chase Fields, 4, is a big fan of the petting zoo at the Houston livestock show and rodeo.

I just tell him after he pets all the animals to wash his hands, and so he pets them and washes his hands, so it s fine, said his mother Jennifer.

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