What is E Coli O157?

All animals naturally carry a range of micro-organisms, some of which can be transmitted to humans, where they may cause ill health. Some organisms which may be contracted on farms, such as Escherichia coli O157 (E coli O157), present a serious hazard and potentially cause severe disease.

E coli O157 in particular can cause severe illness in young children. Good general cleanliness around the farm, separating eating and contact areas, adequate hand washing facilities, information for staff and visitors, and proper supervision of animal contact and hand washing are all essential.

Cattle or goat herds may carry the bacterium, and there have been cases of human ill health following contact with animals carrying it. Very low numbers of E coli O157 can cause infection and so it is important that farmers control the risks to visitors.

Controlling the risks from E coli O157 will control the risks from most other organisms carried by animals which are transmissible to humans by hand to mouth contact.

Further information can be found at  http://www.hpa.org.uk/

Is it Still Safe to Visit Petting Farms

Providing the premises is following the guidelines in Health and Safety Executive Guidance (HSE.gov.uk) there should be no increased risk to visitors.

However as a parent/guardian/carer there are some straight forward things you can do to minimise risks still further.

  • Do not touch your face without washing your hands first - this includes such things as blowing noses.
  • Avoid all hand to face contact unless hands are washed first.
  • Refrain from eating or drinking anything whilst around the animals - even sweets or fruit.
  • Wash hands at every opportunity when passing from pen to pen.
  • Avoid touching any pen or fence which is dirty.
  • Clean off any mud or farm yard muck from your shoes prior to leaving - remember to wash hands afterwards.
  • Do not stray in to working areas of the farm
  • Do not touch or handle any farm equipment or tools.
  • When washing hands - adults should supervise young children.
  • Hands should be washed back and front with special attention between the fingers and around the finger nails. Always use soap. (Bactericidal soaps are not necessary). 
  • Do not allow children's faces to come in to contact with any animals

For any Further information Please contact our Environmental Health Team.

Environmental Health