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'Do Not Kiss Farm Animals': Advice Released After Farm Illness Outbreak

Public health experts at are reminding families on the Isle of Wight of the simple steps to make sure they safely enjoy visits to farms and petting zoos this summer.

The advice, issued by UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) South East, comes after people who attended Ryde's Hazelgrove Farm from early April to the start of May were victims of infectious disease Cryptosporidium.

Open Farm Sunday is coming up on June 11 and public health experts are reminding visitors that there are small things they can do to reduce the risk from such gastro-intestinal infections.

Charlotte Flynn, health protection consultant with UKHSA South East, said:

“Farm animals can be the source of several bugs that can be passed from animals to humans and cause illness. Some can be particularly serious for children or pregnant women.

“Infections can be picked up from the animal’s body, its poo or from areas where animals have recently been.

"Do not use gels or wipes instead of soap and water - gels and wipes do not remove bugs in dirt.

"Farms provide hand washing facilities, so we encourage people to make use of these to ensure the only thing you take away from your visit is happy memories.”

Open Farm Sunday (11 June) will see many farms open their gates to the public which might not normally do so. For more details, including which farms are open, visit: Homepage - Open Farm Sunday

What to do when visiting a farm

Following the simple rules listed below will help to keep you and your children safe from infections that may be found on open farms. Pregnant women need to take particular care as infections acquired from animals can be harmful to them and their unborn baby.

  • Do wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have touched animals, fences or other surfaces in animal areas. All open farms provide handwashing facilities for visitors.
  • Do wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or drinking.
  • Do remove and clean boots or shoes that might have become soiled and clean pushchair wheels. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Do supervise children closely to ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly.
  • Washing your hands should take about 20 seconds – the same time that it takes to recite a single verse of “Old Macdonald Had A Farm”.
  • Do eat and drink in picnic areas or cafes only.
  • Do not put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking round the farm.
  • Do not kiss farm animals or allow children to put their faces close to animals.
  • Do not eat or drink while touching animals or walking round the farm. This includes not eating sweets, crisps or chewing gum.
  • Do not eat anything that has fallen on the floor.
  • Do not use gels or wipes instead of washing hands with soap and water. Gels and wipes do not remove bugs in dirt.

What should I do if I feel unwell after a farm visit?

If you or anyone in your group feels unwell or has any symptoms, for example is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks of visiting a farm, contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.

If you or anyone in your group, particularly a young child, has bloody diarrhoea, seek immediate emergency medical attention.