Heading to an Open Farm Sunday event? Enjoy your visit safely say health experts
Public health experts at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are reminding families of the simple steps they can take to make sure they safely enjoy visits to farms this summer.
Open Farm Sunday is coming up on 11 June and public health experts are reminding visitors that there are small things they can do to reduce the risk from gastro-intestinal infections such as Salmonella, Cryptosporidium and E.coli, which can be passed from farm animals to humans and cause illness.
UKHSA health protection teams are urging anyone planning a trip to the farm, to remember the importance of thoroughly and frequently washing hands to avoid getting bugs which can make you seriously ill. Once infected, you can also pass the bugs on to other people who can also become unwell.
Charlotte Flynn, health protection consultant with UKHSA South East, said:
“Visiting a farm is a really fun day out which is an enjoyable and educational experience for many people, particularly children. However, it’s important to remember that 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. If the germs are on your hands, you could accidentally pass them to your mouth. You can’t see the germs, so your hands may appear clean.
“Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after you have had contact with animals and before eating any food will reduce the risk of infection. 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.”
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager, said:
“We want people to continue to enjoy visiting farms and agricultural events safely. This means making time after touching animals, pens or fencing, to wash your hands thoroughly with liquid soap, running water and drying them with disposable towels. Adults should always supervise children to ensure that they wash their hands properly and grow up learning that clean hands are essential before eating! Anti bac hand gel is not a replacement for washing hands, especially not when spending time around animals. If a dummy drops on the ground it will need sterilising, and boots, shoes and pushchairs need to be washed down too when leaving a farm. Remember these simple things to ensure your farm visit is both enjoyable and safe.”
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
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