MEMBERS of the Public Health England West Midlands Health Protection Team have been working closely with environmental health colleagues from Shropshire Council, following two confirmed cases of E. coli O157 linked to Acton Scott Historic Working Farm near Craven Arms, which is managed by the council.

The farm temporarily closed on Thursday, June 24 2021, to work with public health partners to take further precautionary measures to reduce risk of visitors catching the infection. The new measures include providing more visitor handwashing facilities and improving safety information about feeding and touching animals.

Dr Adrian Phillips, consultant with Public Health England West Midlands Health Protection Team, said steps are being taken to protect the public

“The farm has multiple hand sanitiser points across the site to help protect from coronavirus; however, if people have been touching things which could be infected with E. coli, including touching farm animals, handwashing with warm water and soap is necessary to prevent stomach bugs,” Dr Phillips said.

“During spring and summer, especially over holiday periods, there is generally an increase in gastro-intestinal infections which are often associated with a range of activities including farm or park visits, where infections can be picked up by handling or stroking animals. Good hand hygiene for all, and supervised hand hygiene for small children, is essential to minimise the risk of developing a stomach bug.

“E. coli O157 is a relatively rare infection that causes a spectrum of illness ranging from mild through to severe bloody diarrhoea, mostly without fever. Sometimes the infection can cause a condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome that affects the kidneys and can be very serious. Young children and elderly people are more prone to development of complications associated with E. coli O157.”

People in the countryside are advised to make sure they regularly wash hands and use properly treated or bottled water

Pregnant women should not help ewes to lamb, or to provide assistance with a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding.