Cute farm animals can pose real health risks

Tuesday September 2, 2014

People are being urged to take extra care around calves, lambs and other new born farm animals this Spring.


Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says serious diseases can be caught from farm animals.


"Farm animals may look cute and harmless but if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after touching them you can catch serious diseases," Dr Humphrey says.


The diseases that can be caught from touching young animals such as lambs include:

•    Yersina

•    Tetanus

•    Cryptosporidium

•    Salmonella

•    VTEC (E.Coli 0157)

•    Campylobacter

•    Giardia

•    Ringworm


“Spring is the time of year when stomach bugs are most prevalent in Canterbury. Spring is a busy time on farms and in meat works, and people are in close contact with animals. Often this includes workers or visitors who don’t usually deal with animals.


“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,” Dr Humphrey says.


He says this is a serious health issue.


“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,” Dr Humphrey says.



Page last reviewed: 02 September 2014