Taking your children for a day at the farm?

Risks to children from E.coli infection from farm animals

source: Steve Connor
Independent April 22 2000 p9

Farm livestock pose a risk to young children, who can become infected with E.coli O157 bacteria, according to bacteriology professor, Hugh Pennington, from Aberdeen University, Scotland. Young children are more likely to touch animals which may have manure smeared on them, and are more likely to place their hands in their mouths. Young children are also vulnerable to E.coli infections, which can lead to kidney and brain damage. Some E.coli bacteria are not harmful, but E.coli O157 is a toxin-producing bacteria. It was first noted in the 1970s in the US, and later found in Britain, where it has become increasingly common.

Ornamental farms and children's zoos, with small animals like rabbits, chickens and ducks are less dangerous to children. Ducks and chickens are not carriers of E.coli O157. They may have salmonella infections, but these are less easily transmissable, and result in less serious illnesses.