This summer, many families will be heading off to petting farms and zoos.
It’s a great way to spend some of the half-term holidays and connect with nature and the outdoors.
When you are out and about there can be health risks especially if you are handling or feeding the animals.
Worcestershire County Council’s Public Health Team is urging people 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.”
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.
Advice for anyone who has been ill following a visit to a farm
If you have a diarrhoeal illness:
• Drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration
• If symptoms are severe, or if there is blood in the diarrhoea, contact NHS 111 or your GP
• Stay off school and work for 48hrs
• Stay away from swimming pools for 14 days after the last episode of illness