Infection control advice for fun on the farm
Ahead of the petting farm season, PHE North West is reminding people, especially those with responsibility for young children, to enjoy their farm visits safely by ensuring good hand hygiene after touching farm animals or their surroundings.
Angela Hardman, Deputy Director Health Protection PHE North West, said: “Visiting a farm can be great fun for all the family, but contact with farm animals carries a risk of infection because of the bugs they naturally carry.
At this time of year we usually see a rise in cases of gastrointestinal infections including cryptosporidiosis, E.coli 0157, salmonella, campylobacter and giardia. “
“Make sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with animals, especially before eating and drinking. If you or anyone in your group is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks of visiting a farm, contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.”
Advice to parents and teachers taking children on farm visits:
- Visiting a farm or petting zoo is an enjoyable and educational experience for many people. However, animals can carry a number of infections that may be harmful to people, especially children and pregnant women.
- People who visit farms and come in to contact with animals should be aware of the potential for infections from animals.
- It should be assumed that all farm animals will be carrying infections, even if they appear clean and healthy.
- Outbreaks of infections associated with animals tend to happen in the spring linked to lambing events and also during the summer when people are on holiday.
- If you’re planning a school or group visit to a farm, you also need to make sure that you’ve considered all the risks and taken steps to manage them.
When visiting farms, it is important to remember to:
- read and listen to the advice provided by the farm
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have touched animals, fences or other surfaces in animal areas
- wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or drinking
- remove and clean boots or shoes that might have become soiled, clean pushchair wheels and then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
- supervise children closely to ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly
- eat and drink in picnic areas or cafes only
Try not to:
- put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking round the farm
- kiss farm animals nor allow children to put their faces close to animals
- eat or drink while touching animals or walking round the farm – including not eating sweets, crisps or chewing gum
- eat anything that has fallen on the floor
- use gels or wipes instead of washing hands with soap and water as they do not remove the germs found on farms
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