E coli bug contaminates farmland

The bacterium E coli 0157 has contaminated an area of farmland in Northern Ireland following the recent floods.

Richard Thompson of Ballymoney, County Antrim, noticed that his grass was dying after the floods subsided.

Laboratory tests on the grass found high levels of E coli and Mr Thompson cut the grass and isolated it in a pit. In an interview with the BBC, he said: “It’ll probably have to be dumped as it would be too dangerous to feed it to livestock. Especially suckler cows, as it could make them abort.”

Mr Thompson now faces the prospect of having to buy in extra feed for the winter. He said: “It’s a percentage of our crops so we’re going to be short of feeding, but we hope to get some straw bailed. However, with the weather being so bad, that’s going to be a problem, too.”

Government information warns that about 45% of cattle herds carry E coli, which can cause animals to abort. The bug is dangerous to humans causing severe infection which can endanger life.

The bacteria can pass from person to person, and humans can become infected by contaminated water and inadequately cooked meat and dairy products.

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