Petting farm and zoo visitors urged to wash their hands by UKHSA

Petting farm and zoo visitors urged to wash their hands by UKHSA

Vital before eating and drinking says guidance

Guidance has been issued by the UK Health Security Agency West Midlands (UKHSA) – timed to coincide with the half term holiday. As adults and children venture out to enjoy petting zoo and farm visits, the need for a simple but vitally important activity is being highlighted – hand washing – according to a recent report on the BBC website

Farm visits provide an exciting and educational day out, but there is a small risk of parasites and germs affecting young children as well as pregnant women, says the report, which quotes West Midlands consultant in communicable disease control Dr Roger Gajraj, a lead on gastro-intestinal infections.

It’s not just the animals themselves that pose the risk – but also fences and other surfaces that they may have come into contact with. The good news is that the number of people who fall ill is comparatively small; but incidents of illness could be significantly reduced by an effective hand wash Dr Gajraj is quoted as saying,

“Thousands of people in the West Midlands region visit farm attractions each year, and while the number of people who become ill is proportionally quite small, many cases of illness could be avoided by practicing the correct hand hygiene.”

Wash with soap and water – not gels

Sitting on and touching grass can itself pose a small risk says the article, which goes on to point out that animal-associated gastro-intestinal infections tend to increase during the lambing season as well as in the summer months, when people are out in the countryside more frequently.

“Hands should be washed, after contact with animals and especially before eating and drinking, the UK Health Security Agency West Midlands said.”

Eating and drinking should only take place in designated areas. Hand washing should take place after footwear has been removed and/or cleaned.

The Teal Stallette is based in Dudley Zoo's Go Wild Theatre

Mobile hand wash unit is perfect for the Go Wild! Theatre

Dudley Zoological Gardens (DZG) is a home to more than 1300 animals, and has nigh on 200 species, including some of the rarest creatures on Planet Earth.

They provide an effective soap and water hand wash for visitors and staff who enter their Go Wild! Theatre where education presenters host daily animal encounters for visitors with a variety of small critters, from snakes and bearded lizards to chinchillas and cockroaches.

Rachel Hickman (pictured, above) of DZG explained

“The sink is a convenient way for visitors to clean their hands in the theatre, where there are no permanent facilities, to prevent cross contamination before and after touching the animals.”

Hand washing with a Stallette mobile sink where there are no permanent hand washing facilities at Dudley Zoo
The hand washing message is a clear one at Dudley Zoological Gardens

Teal portable hand wash units can be used wherever they’re needed

The Teal range of mobile sinks are robust, easy to move around and need surprisingly little water and includes the mains powered Super Stallette and the ultra portable Handeman Xtra and the new WashStand Xtra which use preheated hot water and can be placed anywhere within a zoo, farm or animal care environment.

Buy or hire hand wash units.

The Teal Super Stallette – hand washing anywhere there’s a power socket