Wash your hands when visiting the farm


The Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding everyone ahead of World Hand Hygiene Day on the 5 May of the need to clean your hands thoroughly and regularly on days out with the family, particularly when visiting open farms.

Caroline McGeary, Senior Infection Prevention and Control Nurse at the PHA, said: “The spring and summer months are a great time to visit open farms, but we want people to have pleasant memories, so it’s important for the whole family to practise good personal hygiene by washing your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and hot running water when visiting these places.

“All animals naturally carry a range of organisms, some of which can be transmitted to children and adults and can potentially cause severe infection, particularly in young children. For example, Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) and Cryptosporidium are easily passed from animals to children, symptoms include vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhoea. Cryptosporidium is a leading cause of infectious diarrhoea in humans in the UK. It can spread easily within the household and may cause severe infection in vulnerable individuals, but by following a few simple hygiene tips, you can have a fantastic time and stay well.”

To reduce the risk of illness, all adults and children should follow some simple steps to ensure a fun day out on the farm:

  • Wash hands thoroughly using soap and water and dry thoroughly with paper towels after handling animals or touching surfaces at the farm.
  • Hands should always be washed before eating or drinking and after using the toilet.
  • Antibacterial hand gels and wipes are not a substitute for washing hands, as gels and wipes may not adequately remove germs and bugs in the way that running water can. However, using such gels after hand washing with soap and water may reduce the risk of picking up these infections.

“A responsible adult should always supervise children’s personal hygiene to make sure it is carried out properly. By being aware and by taking some simple steps, we can all help to avoid illness and enjoy a fun day out,” concluded Caroline McGeary.