ANZIO Digital Hand Washing Reminder For Petting Farm Season

by Patricia Montgomery, LincsMag Writer.
Date: 03 May 2012

Hand Washing Reminder For Petting Farm Season - Lincolnshire Magazine -

With it being the petting farm season, the Health Protection Agency (HPA) 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.

Direct Contact With Animals

Outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness associated with contact with farm animals peak in the spring and summer as this coincides with schools holidays when visits to petting farms tend to be more popular, although outbreaks can occur at other times.

The route of transmission in these illnesses, which include the infections E. coli O157 and Cryptosporidium, is direct contact with animals in petting and feeding areas as well as contact with the droppings of animals on contaminated surfaces around farms.

Sound Advice

Dr Vanessa MacGregor, Consultant in Communicable Disease Control at HPA East Midlands said: “Ahead of the Easter weekend when families may be thinking about visiting a farm, everyone needs to remember the importance of hand washing after contact with animals.

“Farm visits can be a very enjoyable experience for both children and adults and a few simple precautions will help avoid illness and ensure everyone enjoys a fun day out.

“Children need to be carefully supervised to ensure that they don’t put their hands in their mouth directly after petting the animals, which naturally carry germs. When everyone has finished petting and handling the animals they need to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water and to dry them before eating.

“It’s also very important to remember that hand gels or wipes have their uses in areas that are generally clean, such as offices or hospitals, but they are not effective in completely removing from soiled hands bugs such as E.coli or Cryptosporidium that are commonly found in animal droppings and on contaminated surfaces around farms. This is why washing the hands thoroughly with soap and water is so important - it is the only way to effectively remove the bacteria and reduce the risk of becoming unwell.”

Figures from the HPA’s national surveillance system show that there were 61 outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness associated with farms visits between 1992 and 2011. Twenty two of these outbreaks (36 per cent) occurred in the last three years (2009-11).

Gastrointestinal Infection

Gastrointestinal infection (infectious intestinal disease) affects as many as 1 in 5 members of the population each year. Symptoms of gastrointestinal infection, which are not necessarily confined to diarrhoea and vomiting, are caused by the organisms themselves or by the toxins that they produce.

And Remember...

Please enjoy your farm visit and there are many farms that love to welcome families, just remember ... Wash your hands!

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