This article appeared in our Surgery Newsletter - Issue 3.
Fun Down On The Farm - Be Aware and Be Safe
Many of you will remember the outbreaks of E. coli infection associated with animal petting farms last summer.
‘Open farms’ (or ‘petting farms’) provide a valuable recreational and educational experience for many people. As with many activities in life, visits to open farms can never be considered free from all risk – and one of the risks which needs to be understood by the visiting public is that of infection caused by the bacterium, E. coli O157.
E. coli O157 is a very infectious disease. Swallowing a small number of the bacteria can cause illness. While relatively rare in relation to the millions of visits paid to open farms each year, there must be no complacency as E. coli O157 can cause very severe complications in all age groups but especially in children under 5.
The Department of Health is promoting some straightforward public health messages about E. coli O157...
- You should assume that all cattle, sheep and goats are infected with E. coli O157 bacteria, even if the animals look clean and healthy.
- You can therefore pick up E. coli O157 by touching animals, fences and other surfaces and accidentally transfer the bacteria to your mouth.
- Children, especially those under 5, are particularly vulnerable to E. coli O157 infection and are more likely to suffer very serious illness as a result.
- Washing your hands thoroughly with soap andwater will reduce the chance of infection. Remember to wash your hands after touching an animal, before eating or drinking, and after removing clothing and shoes worn on the farm.
- Children should be closely supervised to ensure that they wash their hands properly after contact with animals.
The following links may provide further information.
...or you can search for 'e coli 0157' in your favourite search engine.