16 May 2000
Farm visit suspected in E coli cases

By FWi staff

A VISIT to a farm is suspected to have caused an outbreak of E coli 0157 at a Somerset primary school.

A boy and girl, both aged five, were taken to hospital last week with symptoms of the infection, reports the Western Daily Press.

The girl was said to be stable on Monday (15 May) and the boy was discharged after treatment.

The newspaper reports that a spokesman for Somerset Health Authority believed a farm could be the source.

He said it was possible the girl had picked up the infection during a regular visit she made to a farm before passing it on to the boy.

Experts are carrying out tests to pinpoint the source of the outbreak of the potentially fatal bug.

Examinations are also being carried out on classmates at the first school in Highbridge.

Earlier this year the family of a six-year-old boy left severely brain-damaged after contracting E coli during a trip to a farm were awarded an initial payment of 200,000 by the High Court.

Afterwards food safety expert Hugh Pennington, who led the inquiry into the fatal outbreak of E coli in Lanarkshire, said it was unwise for young children to visit farms.

But the National Association for Farms for Schools (NAFS), said it was safe so long as Health and Safety Executive guidelines are followed.

Around 14 million people visited British farms last year. In the past 10 years only around 40 cases of E coli have been connected to farm visits.