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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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