Peak residents reminded to wash their hands after petting farm animals

PArents in the Peaks are being asked to remember hygiene when it comes to the petting animals.

Ahead of 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.

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.

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.

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.”