As the Easter holidays are underway many families will have planned days out such as visiting petting farms. However it is important to practice good hygiene when being around animals.
Animals can often carry germs and infections which can be harmful to people especially children and pregnant women.
Outbreaks of infections in animals is most common in the spring linked to lambing events and also during the summer when people are on holiday.
Dr Simon Howard, Consultant in Health Protection at UK Health Security Agency’s North East Health Protection Team, said: “Visiting a farm or zoo can be great fun for all ages especially at this time of year when we are approaching petting season, but people should be aware that contact with animals carries a risk of infection because of the bugs they naturally carry.
"Unfortunately, in the spring and summer months we often see a rise in cases of gastrointestinal infections including cryptosporidiosis, E.coli 0157, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Giardia.
"The best way to protect yourself and others is to make sure to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after contact with animals, especially before eating and drinking. We are very used to washing our hands thoroughly after two years of the COVID pandemic, but we must not forget that this simple measure can also keep many other germs at bay.”
Tips to stay safe at the farm include:
:: Read and listen to the advice provided by the facility
:: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you have touched animals, fences, or other surfaces in animal areas
:: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before eating or drinking
:: Remove and clean boots or shoes that might have become soiled, clean pushchair wheels, and then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water
:: Supervise children closely to ensure that they wash their hands thoroughly
:: Do not eat and drink around the animals
:: Do not put hands on faces or fingers in mouths while petting animals or walking round the farm or zoo
If you or anyone in your group is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks of visiting a farm, please contact your GP or call NHS 111 as soon as possible.