Twelve children under 10 remained in hospital last night, three seriously ill, after contracting E.coli from a children’s farm.
Godstone Farm, in Surrey, which allows children to pet and feed its animals, shut its gates to visitors at the weekend as 36 cases of E. coli were confirmed by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).
E. coli is a common bacteria that lives in the guts of humans and animals. However, there are several strains that can cause serious infections, including O157:H7, which is responsible for the outbreak at Godstone Farm. The bacteria is transmitted from animals if it gets on to a persons hands, and then into their mouth and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea or more serious complications.
The farm welcomed 2, 000 daily visitors, half of whom were children, during the summer holidays and similar numbers have visited over the last few weekends. The bug has a 12 day incubation period and the HPA has advised schools and parents to look out for symptoms in children who visited the farm, including stomach pains and vomiting and diarrhoea.
Is it safe for my child to visit farms and how can I protect her from the E. coli bug?