If you’re thinking about heading to a petting farm this Easter, Public Health England has issued some timely advice about avoiding bugs.
PHE is urging visitors to petting farms this Easter and spring to make sure they practice proper hand hygiene to avoid illness.
Many animals can carry parasites and germs that can affect young children such as E.coli 0157 or cryptosporidium and evidence shows those cases can peak in the spring - partly associated with children handling animals and feeding lambs at petting farms.
To help avoid unnecessary illness, PHE wants to remind everyone visiting farms to wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water after they have handled animals and before eating or drinking.
Dr Rosemary McCann, a Deputy Director for Health Protection at PHE said: “Thousands of people visit farm attractions each year so the number of people who become ill is proportionally very small. However, many cases of illness could be avoided by practicing good hand hygiene.
“People may be tempted to use hand gels and wipes during a farm visit and after touching animals, but although they remove visible dirt and contamination, they may not be effective in removing the germs found on farms.
“It is vitally important to remember that hands should be washed well with soap and water, especially before consuming food and drinks. By maintaining good hand hygiene you can help avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out.”
A quick reminder of dos and don’ts when visiting petting farms:
• Do not put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking round the farm.
• Do not kiss farm animals nor 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 the germs found on farms
• Do wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have touched animals, fences or other surfaces in animal areas.
• 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.
• Do eat and drink in picnic areas or cafes only.