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New Advice for York Parents Visiting Petting Farms


12:37pm 8th April 2014

York Council’s Public Health Team has worked with Public Health England (PHE) to produce a factsheet that is being sent to all schools and Children’s Centres in York offering advice on good hand hygiene when visiting farm attractions.

All of the bacteria that can cause illnesses, including Salmonella and E. coli, live in the gut of the animals so people can get infected within the farm setting mainly in two ways; either by touching animals in the petting and feeding areas or by coming into contact with animal droppings on contaminated surfaces around the farm. These harmful bacteria can get accidentally passed to your mouth by putting hands on faces or fingers in mouths before washing them thoroughly.  It only takes a small number of the bacteria to cause infection.    

City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Housing and Adult Services Tracey Simpson-Laing said: “During the Easter break we will all be looking for things to do with our families.  When my daughter was younger she loved visiting farms and we want people to enjoy the experience safely while still encouraging families to visit farms and learn about the environment.   

“These outbreaks of illness serve as a reminder for anyone visiting a petting farm of the need to wash their hands thoroughly using liquid soap and warm running water, and drying with disposable paper towels after they have handled animals or been in their surroundings - particularly before eating.  Although we can avoid obvious dirt there will be millions of invisible bacteria spread all around the farm which can get onto our hands."   

By being aware and by doing these simple things it can help to avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out:

  • Don’t put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking round the farm
  • Don’t kiss farm animals or allow children to put their faces close to animals
  • Don’t eat or drink while touching animals or walking round the farm.  This includes not eating sweets, crisps or chewing gum.    
  • Don’t taste or eat any animal foods or unpasteurised products such as milk or cheese
  • Don’t eat anything that has fallen on the floor
  • Don’t use handrubs or wipes instead of washing hands
  • Do check that cuts and grazes on children’s hands are covered with waterproof dressings
  • Do remove and clean boots or shoes that mights have become soiled and clean pushchair wheels.  Then wash you hands thoroughly with liquid soap and warm water and dry with paper towels 
  • Do supervise children closely to ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly
  • Do eat and drink in picnic areas or cafes only

If anyone is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks after a farm visit contact your GP.

You can download the full factsheet here.

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