‘Lambing Live’ featuring E. coli O157: UK farm shop admits failures

In April 2014, at least 15 people, primarily children, who visited a petting farm in Lancashire were stricken with E. coli O157.

When the outbreak was first reported, the UK National Farmer’s Union reassured people that petting farms are safe as long as hygiene rules are followed and that they should continue to go despite the E. coli outbreak.

_87104305_huntleys_googleNot quite.

You people are assholes.

There have been outbreaks where pathogens have been aerosolized and that handwashing was not a significant control factor.

Yesterday, a UK court heard that four children suffered potentially life-threatening kidney failure after an E. coli outbreak at a Lancashire farm shop.

Huntley’s Country Stores, near Preston, admitted health and safety breaches at a lambing event in April 2014.

The four children needed life-saving kidney dialysis with one needing three operations and blood transfusions.

The farming attraction was fined £60,000 and told to pay £60,000 costs at Preston Crown Court on Monday.

In total, 15 people were struck down by the bug – 13 of them children – with nine needing hospital treatment. A further 15 possible cases were also recorded.

The court heard the tragically typical litany of errors:

  • visitors allowed uncontrolled access to lambs – children could enter animal pens and roll in feces-covered straw;
  • during bottle-feeding, lambs were allowed to climb onto seats, leaving them soiled with feces;
  • pens had open bar gates allowing contaminated bedding to spill onto main visitor area;
  • animals were densely packed, allowing bacteria build-up; and,
  • hand washing basins meant for visitors were used to clean animal feeding dishes.

Juliette Martin, of Clitheroe, took her daughter Annabelle, 7, to the ‘Lambing Live’ event at Easter last year.

lambing-live-prestonThe youngster, who had bottle-fed a lamb, suffered kidney failure and needed three operations, three blood transfusions and 11 days of dialysis.

Mrs Martin said: “If we ever thought that by feeding lambs that our daughter would be fighting for her life we would never have visited Huntley’s.”

A spokesman for the farm shop in Samlesbury said: “Everyone at Huntley’s Country Stores deeply regrets that its Lambing Live event in 2014 resulted in the serious ill health of children and an employee.

“At the time of the events, and following the reports of the outbreak of E. coli, the company co-operated with South Ribble Borough Council and has accepted responsibility in court for failings in the assessment of risks.”

A table of petting zoo outbreaks is available at http://barfblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Petting-Zoo-Outbreaks-Table-4-8-14.xlsx.

Best practices for planning events encouraging human-animal interactions

Erdozain , K. KuKanich , B. Chapman  and D. Powell

03.Apr.14

Zoonoses and Public Health

Educational events encouraging human–animal interaction include the risk of zoonotic disease transmission. ‘It is estimated that 14% of all disease in the USA caused by Campylobacter spp., Cryptosporidium spp., Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) O157, non-O157 STECs, Listeria monocytogenes, nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica and Yersinia enterocolitica were attributable to animal contact. This article reviews best practices for organizing events where human–animal interactions are encouraged, with the objective of lowering the risk of zoonotic disease transmission.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/zph.12117/abstract?deniedAccessCustomisedMessage=&userIsAuthenticated=false