Visitors to Welsh lamb petting event fall ill

Health officials are investigating an outbreak of a stomach disease among people who visited a lamb petting event at a farm in Wales.

A spokeswoman for Public Health Wales said 12 cases of cryptosporidium had been confirmed among visitors to Erddig Hall farm, near Wrexham. A further four cases remain under investigation.

The disease causes bouts of diarrhoea which can last for several weeks, but the spokeswoman stressed the disease was not considered serious for the majority of people.

“Most cases will recover without treatment, however, a more serious illness may develop in the very young, the elderly, pregnant people or those with weakened immune systems,” the spokeswoman said.

Public Health Wales is now contacting health units in England to inform them of the outbreak and identify any cases that may be linked.

“We are encouraging people who have come into contact with livestock to take thorough hand hygiene precautions to limit the spread of diseases passed from animals to humans,” she added.

An investigation into health and safety practices at the farm has been started by the Health and Safety Executive.

Public Health Wales has issued the following hygiene precautions checklist for people opening farms to visitors this spring and summer.

• Wash hands with soap and warm water immediately after touching animals or their fencing

• Avoid contact with animal bedding, litter and fencing

• Refrain from eating or drinking while touching animals

• Ensure children are closely supervised and that they wash their hands properly

• Avoid putting fingers in mouths or touching faces while petting animals

• Don’t allow children to put their faces close to animals

• Ensure everyone attending lambing events observe full hand hygiene procedures

• Take particular care if pregnant, avoiding contact with sheep, lambs and their droppings, especially during the lambing season.

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