Worcestershire County Council’s Public Health Team is reminding residents to stay well this Open Farm Sunday (June 11)
Many families may choose to mark the day by heading off to one of Worcestershire’s petting farms and zoos.
It’s a great way to connect with nature and the outdoors, but it is important to remember there can be health risks especially if you are handling or feeding the animals.
If you are visiting a farm this weekend, people are being reminded to regularly wash their hands with soap and water during their visit, to avoid nasty stomach bugs.
Many animals carry parasites and germs that can affect young children and pregnant women. There is an increase in these germs at the times of the year when children are handling animals and feeding lambs at petting farms.
Dr Lisa McNally, Director of Public Health for Worcestershire County Council, said: “Getting out into Worcestershire’s lovely countryside and visiting a farm is wonderful, especially with children. We want everyone to have a great time and stay well.
Every year a small number of people may become ill but this can be avoided by washing our hands really well. This means using soap and warm water after contact with animals and especially before consuming food and drinks. Hand gels or wipes are not a substitute for washing your hands as they don’t kill all bugs.
“It’s also important to remember that even if you’ve not been touching the animals, you may have been touching fences or other surfaces in areas with animals or sitting on and touching grass or bales that are contaminated in country parks or farmland, so keep washing your hands thoroughly to avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out.”
Annabel Shackleton, LEAF Open Farm Sunday Manager, said: “We want people to continue to enjoy visiting farms and agricultural events safely. This means making time after touching animals, pens or fencing, to wash your hands thoroughly with liquid soap, running water and drying them with disposable towels. Adults should always supervise children to ensure that they wash their hands properly and grow up learning that clean hands are essential before eating! Anti bac hand gel is not a replacement for washing hands, especially not when spending time around animals. If a dummy drops on the ground it will need sterilising, and boots, shoes and pushchairs need to be washed down too when leaving a farm. Remember these simple things to ensure your farm visit is both enjoyable and safe.”
Open Farm Sunday will see many farms open their gates to the public which might not normally do so. For more details, including which farms are open, visit the Open Farm Sunday homepage.
If you or anyone in your group is sick or has diarrhoea within two weeks of visiting a farm, please contact your GP or NHS111 as soon as possible.