Soap and water handwashing is essential on farm visits warns UKHSA

Child on a farm visit with a KiddiSynk handwash unit

There is ofter a sharp rise of cryptosporidium and E.coli at this time of year

Easter is a time of year when farm visits begin again in earnest – an activity that can be hugely enjoyable and educational for adults and children alike. It should however be noted that effective hand hygiene is essential at such times if a number of unpleasant illnesses are to be avoided, according to a recent article on the Gloucestershire Live website and others.

The article by Emma Elgee centres on advice received from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), which flags up threats posed by gastro-intestinal infections such as E.coli and cryptosporidium.

The illnesses can be contracted in a number of ways during a visit to a farm says the report – by coming into contact with contaminated surfaces and animal faeces or by touching the animals themselves.

A consultant in Health Protection at UKHSA South West, Dr Chitra Arumugam, is quoted as saying

“Visiting a farm is an enjoyable and educational experience for many people, particularly children. However, visiting a farm carries a small risk of catching infection from animals or the environment.”

Wash hands with soap and running water

Some may prove to be serious for pregnant women and children, says Dr. Arumugam, who reassuringly shows how anyone can help prevent illness, by washing their hands carefully and not by relying on the quick fix of gels and wipes.

“Washing your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water immediately after you have had contact with animals will reduce the risk of infection. Hand gels or wipes are not a substitute for washing your hands with soap and running water although they are better than nothing if soap and running water is not available.”

Make sure hand washing facilities “child friendly”

Incidents of E.coli are typically at their highest between June and October writes Elgee – and it can cause “severe illness”.

The key to helping prevent these illnesses in children says the article, is having suitable facilities for them – at the point of need.

“We know that having the right handwashing facilities at the right height and in the right place is particularly important to encourage handwashing in children. The best farms in the South West have facilities based in a practical place and hot water and soap readily available.”

Families warned over hand hygiene during Easter to avoid nasty infections from farms »

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