Pregnant women warned of farmyard dangers
PREGNANT women should avoid close contact with animals that are giving, or have recently given birth, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has advised.
The Scottish Government, along with other UK health departments, issues annual advice to pregnant women who come into close contact with sheep during lambing or other farm animals that are giving birth, which may risk their own health and that of their unborn child.
Dr Calderwood said: ‘Even though the number of pregnancies affected by contact with infected animals is extremely small, it’s very important pregnant women understand the risks and take appropriate precautions.
‘If pregnant women experience a fever, or flu-like symptoms, and think they might have acquired an infection from a farm-like environment, they must seek immediate medical advice.
‘These risks are not confined to the spring and do not only apply to sheep, but also to cattle and goats that have recently given birth. All can carry similar infections, uch as chlamydia, toxoplasma, listeria and Q fever.’
To avoid the possible risk of infection, pregnant women should:
Not help to lamb or milk ewes, or to provide assistance with a cow that is calving or a nanny goat that is kidding.
Avoid contact with aborted or new-born lambs, calves or kids or with the afterbirth, birthing fluids or materials contaminated by such birth products.
Avoid handling, including washing, clothing, boots or any materials that may have come into contact with animals that have recently given birth, their young or afterbirths. Potentially contaminated clothing will be safe to handle after being washed on a hot cycle.
Ensure contacts or partners who have attended lambing ewes or other animals giving birth take appropriate health and hygiene precautions, including the wearing of personal protective equipment and clothing and adequate washing to remove any potential contamination.
Farmers and livestock keepers have a responsibility to minimise the risks to pregnant women, including members of their family, the public and professional staff visiting farms.