PHA advice on avoiding infection on farms

Visiting a farm can be an enjoyable and educational experience for many people, but it carries a small risk of catching infection from animals or the environment.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 11:30 am

As restrictions begin to ease and the weather improves the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people of simple steps they can take to keep safe and well.

Dr Philip Veal, Consultant in Heath Protection, said: “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.

“All animals naturally carry a range of organisms, some of which can be transmitted to children and adults and can potentially cause severe infection, particularly in young children and pregnant women.

“For example, E. coli O157 is easily passed from animals to children, can spread easily within the household and may cause severe infection in young children.”

The advice from PHA is: Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water after handling animals or touching surfaces at the farm; Do not kiss farm animals or allow children to put their faces close to animals; Hands should always be washed before eating or drinking and after using the toilet; Antibacterial hand gels and wipes are not a substitute for washing hands, as gels and wipes may not adequately remove germs and bugs in the way that running water can. However, using such gels after hand washing with soap and water may reduce the risk of picking up these infections.

Remove and clean boots or shoes that might have become soiled and clean pushchair wheels. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

For further advice visit the website at