Cute farm an­i­mals could be killers

Care urged around new­born stock

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

Al­low­ing chil­dren to frolic with baby spring an­i­mals can lead to them con­tract­ing se­ri­ous and po­ten­tially life threat­en­ing dis­eases, dis­trict health boards are warn­ing.

The DHBs urged peo­ple to take ex­tra care around calves, lambs and other new­born farm an­i­mals this spring.

Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer of Health Dr Alis­tair Humphrey said se­ri­ous dis­eases can be caught from farm an­i­mals, in­clud­ing tetanus, sal­mo­nella and ring­worm.

‘‘Farm an­i­mals may look cute and harm­less but if you don’t wash your hands thor­oughly after touch­ing them you can catch se­ri­ous dis­eases,’’ he said.

A sim­ple way to en­sure chil­dren do not catch a bug was to make sure they washed their hands after play­ing with farm an­i­mals, he said.

‘‘Chil­dren are the peo­ple most at risk as they are the most dif­fi­cult part of the pop­u­la­tion to get to wash their hands when feed­ing farm an­i­mals.

‘‘Chil­dren on farms need to be re­minded to wash their hands reg­u­larly.’’

The is­sue was a se­ri­ous one and prior cases had seen chil­dren end up in in­ten­sive care.

‘‘Last year a young Can­ter­bury girl was be­ing treated at Star­ship Hos­pi­tal after con­tract­ing a strain of E coli while feed­ing a lamb.

‘‘ For­tu­nately she is lucky to have made a full re­cov­ery thanks to the in­ten­sive care she re­ceived as early on in her ill­ness her prog­no­sis was bleak,’’ Humphrey said.

It was not just farm prop­er­ties, where chil­dren could come into con­tact with young an­i­mals.

Pet­ting zoos can also be the same, although most have fa­cil­i­ties where wash­ing up can be done.

Anne-Marie Swan from Kiwi Val­ley Farm Park near Auck­land said they have wa­ter and soap through­out their park so peo­ple can clean up after touch­ing any an­i­mals.

‘‘We have signs up all round the place say­ing to wash your hands after pet­ting the an­i­mals and we ac­tively en­cour­age peo­ple to do so.

‘‘ It’s some­thing we are very aware of,’’ she said.

Us­ing hand sani­tiser at the parks can also kill off harm­ful bac­te­ria. Dis­eases that can be caught from touch­ing young an­i­mals such as lambs in­clude yersina, tetanus, cryp­tosporid­ium, sal­mo­nella, VTEC (E Coli 0157), campy­lobac­ter, gi­a­r­dia and ring­worm.

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